Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Old article, but still relevant. This is why you should NEVER open an email with an attachment which may be an executable (i.e. Ending in .EXE, .COM, .BAS, .VB, .JS, etc) and you should make sure you have a virus program, and it's updated, and also a spyware/malware program, if it's not included. You can also download a program which checks sites for problems, like McAfee Site Advisor. You think it can't happen to you, and you be labeled a sex offender, your life ruined, well think again!
By JORDAN ROBERTSON
PC owners caught with child porn loaded on their computers by a computer virus
Of all the sinister things that Internet viruses do, this might be the worst: They can make you an unsuspecting collector of child pornography.
Heinous pictures and videos can be deposited on computers by viruses — the malicious programs better known for swiping your credit card numbers. In this twist, it's your reputation that's stolen.
Pedophiles can exploit virus-infected PCs to remotely store and view their stash without fear they'll get caught. Pranksters or someone trying to frame you can tap viruses to make it appear that you surf illegal Web sites.
Whatever the motivation, you get child porn on your computer — and might not realize it until police knock at your door.
An Associated Press investigation found cases in which innocent people have been branded as pedophiles after their co-workers or loved ones stumbled upon child porn placed on a PC through a virus. It can cost victims hundreds of thousands of dollars to prove their innocence.
Their situations are complicated by the fact that actual pedophiles often blame viruses — a defense rightfully viewed with skepticism by law enforcement.
"It's an example of the old `dog ate my homework' excuse," says Phil Malone, director of the Cyberlaw Clinic at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet & Society. "The problem is, sometimes the dog does eat your homework."
The AP's investigation included interviewing people who had been found with child porn on their computers. The AP reviewed court records and spoke to prosecutors, police and computer examiners.
One case involved [name withheld], a former investigator with the Massachusetts agency that oversees workers' compensation.
In 2007, [name withheld]'s bosses became suspicious after the Internet bill for his state-issued laptop showed that he used 4 1/2 times more data than his colleagues. A technician found child porn in the PC folder that stores images viewed online.
[name withheld] was fired and charged with possession of child pornography, which carries up to five years in prison. He endured death threats, his car tires were slashed and he was shunned by friends.
[name withheld] and his wife fought the case, spending $250,000 on legal fees. They liquidated their savings, took a second mortgage and sold their car.
An inspection for his defense revealed the laptop was severely infected. It was programmed to visit as many as 40 child porn sites per minute — an inhuman feat. While [name withheld] and his wife were out to dinner one night, someone logged on to the computer and porn flowed in for an hour and a half.
Prosecutors performed another test and confirmed the defense findings. The charge was dropped — 11 months after it was filed.
The [name withheld] say they have health problems from the stress of the case. They say they've talked to dozens of lawyers but can't get one to sue the state, because of a cap on the amount they can recover.
"It ruined my life, my wife's life and my family's life," he says.
The Massachusetts attorney general's office, which charged [name withheld], declined interview requests.
At any moment, about 20 million of the estimated 1 billion Internet-connected PCs worldwide are infected with viruses that could give hackers full control, according to security software maker F-Secure Corp. Computers often get infected when people open e-mail attachments from unknown sources or visit a malicious Web page.
Pedophiles can tap viruses in several ways. The simplest is to force someone else's computer to surf child porn sites, collecting images along the way. Or a computer can be made into a warehouse for pictures and videos that can be viewed remotely when the PC is online.
"They're kind of like locusts that descend on a cornfield: They eat up everything in sight and they move on to the next cornfield," says Eric Goldman, academic director of the High Tech Law Institute at Santa Clara University. Goldman has represented Web companies that discovered child pornographers were abusing their legitimate services.
But pedophiles need not be involved: Child porn can land on a computer in a sick prank or an attempt to frame the PC's owner.
In the first publicly known cases of individuals being victimized, two men in the United Kingdom were cleared in 2003 after viruses were shown to have been responsible for the child porn on their PCs.
In one case, an infected e-mail or pop-up ad poisoned a defense contractor's PC and downloaded the offensive pictures.
In the other, a virus changed the home page on a man's Web browser to display child porn, a discovery made by his 7-year-old daughter. The man spent more than a week in jail and three months in a halfway house, and lost custody of his daughter.
Chris Watts, a computer examiner in Britain, says he helped clear a hotel manager whose co-workers found child porn on the PC they shared with him.
Watts found that while surfing the Internet for ways to play computer games without paying for them, the manager had visited a site for pirated software. It redirected visitors to child porn sites if they were inactive for a certain period.
In all these cases, the central evidence wasn't in dispute: Pornography was on a computer. But proving how it got there was difficult.
Tami Loehrs, who inspected [name withheld]'s computer, recalls a case in Arizona in which a computer was so "extensively infected" that it would be "virtually impossible" to prove what an indictment alleged: that a 16-year-old who used the PC had uploaded child pornography to a Yahoo group.
Prosecutors dropped the charge and let the boy plead guilty to a separate crime that kept him out of jail, though they say they did it only because of his age and lack of a criminal record.
Many prosecutors say blaming a computer virus for child porn is a new version of an old ploy.
"We call it the SODDI defense: Some Other Dude Did It," says James Anderson, a federal prosecutor in Wyoming.
However, forensic examiners say it would be hard for a pedophile to get away with his crime by using a bogus virus defense.
"I personally would feel more comfortable investing my retirement in the lottery before trying to defend myself with that," says forensics specialist Jeff Fischbach.
Even careful child porn collectors tend to leave incriminating e-mails, DVDs or other clues. Virus defenses are no match for such evidence, says Damon King, trial attorney for the U.S. Justice Department's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section.
But while the virus defense does not appear to be letting real pedophiles out of trouble, there have been cases in which forensic examiners insist that legitimate claims did not get completely aired.
Loehrs points to Ned Solon of Casper, Wyo., who is serving six years for child porn found in a folder used by a file-sharing program on his computer.
Solon admits he used the program to download video games and adult porn — but not child porn. So what could explain that material?
Loehrs testified that Solon's antivirus software wasn't working properly and appeared to have shut off for long stretches, a sign of an infection. She found no evidence the five child porn videos on Solon's computer had been viewed or downloaded fully. The porn was in a folder the file-sharing program labeled as "incomplete" because the downloads were canceled or generated an error.
This defense was curtailed, however, when Loehrs ended her investigation in a dispute with the judge over her fees. Computer exams can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Defendants can ask the courts to pay, but sometimes judges balk at the price. Although Loehrs stopped working for Solon, she argues he is innocent.
"I don't think it was him, I really don't," Loehrs says. "There was too much evidence that it wasn't him."
The prosecution's forensics expert, Randy Huff, maintains that Solon's antivirus software was working properly. And he says he ran other antivirus programs on the computer and didn't find an infection — although security experts say antivirus scans frequently miss things.
"He actually had a very clean computer compared to some of the other cases I do," Huff says.
The jury took two hours to convict Solon.
"Everybody feels they're innocent in prison. Nobody believes me because that's what everybody says," says Solon, whose case is being appealed. "All I know is I did not do it. I never put the stuff on there. I never saw the stuff on there. I can only hope that someday the truth will come out."
But can it? It can be impossible to tell with certainty how a file got onto a PC.
"Computers are not to be trusted," says Jeremiah Grossman, founder of WhiteHat Security Inc. He describes it as "painfully simple" to get a computer to download something the owner doesn't want — whether it's a program that displays ads or one that stores illegal pictures.
It's possible, Grossman says, that more illicit material is waiting to be discovered.
"Just because it's there doesn't mean the person intended for it to be there — whatever it is, child porn included."
STILLWATER - A former Stillwater police officer has been sentenced to a year behind bars for sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl.
Louis Morris, 49, pleaded guilty Tuesday to two counts of rape by instrumentation and three counts of lewd acts with a child under 16. He was also given a 10-year suspended sentence.
Morris was charged with the crimes in June, 2009. He was a 17-year veteran of the Stillwater Police Department.
Reportedly his son had previously dated the victim.
By Andria Simmons
Strangers with candy -- the convicted sex offender kind -- are statistically no more likely to tempt children on Halloween than on other days of the year, but that hasn't stopped Georgia and other states from taking extra precautions.
- Show me one instance in Georgia where a child has been sexually abused on Halloween by a known sex offender, any! Kids are more likely to be hit by a car than anything else. And why don't the fear-driven parents, if they are so scared, go with their children on Halloween? Are they too lazy to "protect" their children from some perceived danger the media and politicians continue to exploit? I think so, they want Big Brother to "protect" and enslave them.
Georgia has no law specifically prohibiting sex offenders from participating in Halloween activities. However, state agencies tasked with supervising them have issued stringent restrictions for this weekend to keep trick-or-treaters safe.
- If you have no law about Halloween restrictions for sex offenders, then you cannot force them to obey simply because you say so. For those on probation or parole, then it's up the their probation or parole officer to set the rules, not the state.
Sex offenders on parole or probation are being told to turn off their outside lights and refrain from decorating their homes for the holiday. They must not answer the door unless it's to a law enforcement officer or an emergency responder, said Steve Hayes, spokesman for the state Board of Pardons and Paroles, which supervises about 500 paroled sex offenders.
"That is completely forbidden and could lead to an arrest warrant for violation of parole," said Hayes.
About 18,900 registered sex offenders live in Georgia.
The state Department of Corrections, which supervises roughly 6,000 of them, is requiring sex offenders to adhere to a curfew on Halloween weekend: It's on both Saturday and Sunday from 6 p.m. at night through 5 a.m. the following morning.
As part of "Operation Safe Halloween," probation officers will visit some sex offenders' homes at random to ensure compliance, said Peggy Chapman, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Corrections.
- It should be called "Operation Perceived Danger!"
The most serious sex offenders who are on probation have to report to their probation office, where they will have sessions with victims who have been impacted by sexual abuse, Chapman said.
Sex offenders living in Georgia who are not on parole or probation are not subject to any special Halloween restrictions.
At least one study shows that sex offenders are not more of a threat on that day to the hordes of costume-clad youngsters who will be going from door to door.
A national study published in 2009 by the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers examined 67,045 sex crimes against children not perpetrated by family members over an eight-year period between 1997 and 2005. The researchers found there was no increase in such crimes on or just before Halloween.
John Bankhead, a spokesman for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, said he is not aware of any trick-or-treaters ever being abused by sex offenders in Georgia. He said parents should be more concerned with traffic safety and making sure their children are well-equipped with flashlights and reflective gear.
- Thank you, that answers my question. This is nothing more than pacifying the sheeple in this state and across the country, over something that doesn't even exist!
"I think the risk is overplayed," Bankhead said. "Typically it's somebody in the inner circle right under the parent's nose that's going to be molesting the children."
Parents still can easily identify and avoid the addresses of sex offenders in their neighborhood. Local sheriff's offices are required to keep a public list of registered sex offenders. The GBI's website also allows people to search online for sex offenders living in their area by city, county or ZIP code.
Governor Rick Perry today praised the important work of the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault (TAASA), and reiterated his call for expanded monitoring of the most dangerous sexual offenders and stronger laws that could put more of them in prison for life without parole.
- It's election time, so of course he's going to come out with this. It wins votes by the sheeple who cannot see he's using them for his own gain, IMO. Why did he not do this last year, or the year before, when it wasn't election time?
The governor spoke at TAASA’s luncheon honoring John and Weisie Steen, who have worked to support TAASA and the victims of sexual abuse in the San Antonio area over the past seven years.
“While the physical wounds of sexual assault can heal over time, the unseen damage can linger for years, decades or even lifetimes,” Gov. Perry said. “TAASA’s work has resulted in more effective laws relating to sexual assault, programs to raise awareness of this blight on society and ultimately better lives for survivors of such a nightmare.”
The Steens have helped mobilize the San Antonio community around the issue of sexual assault by increasing visibility of the issue, and raising more than half a million dollars to support TAASA’s public awareness campaign for survivors and other advocacy work across the state
Gov. Perry also introduced featured speaker Jennifer Schuett, who in 1990, endured a vicious sexual assault and was left for dead. The then-8-year-old Schuett survived her ordeal and worked with investigators for 19 years until her assailant was arrested in another state, identified and charged in her case.
TAASA is a statewide non-profit organization committed to ending sexual violence in Texas through education, prevention and advocacy based in Austin.
- This is like the "war" on drugs, you will never end drugs or sexual assault. We'd all like to think we live in Wonderland, but we do not. These issues are just exploited by politicians, the media, and organizations for their own gain. One day, the sheeple will wake up and see them for who they really are.
TAASA member agencies comprise a statewide network of more than 80 crisis centers serving rural and metropolitan areas.
Founded in 1982, the association handles community education, legal services, youth outreach, law enforcement training, legislative advocacy and curricula and materials development.
- These are all good, but what about treatment? It does work!
Protecting the safety of our communities and ensuring those who commit crimes in Texas are apprehended and appropriately punished is a priority for Gov. Perry.
The governor recently announced initiatives to increase the monitoring and punishment of the most dangerous sex offenders, building on the success of recent initiatives like the Texas Ten Most Wanted Sex Offender list.
- If this applies to anyone who has already been convicted and done their time, then it's against the constitutional (ex post facto) and he is not upholding his "oath" of office.
The governor’s initiatives include:
- A pledge to work with lawmakers during the upcoming session to pass legislation allowing prosecutors to seek life without parole for repeat offenders convicted of sexual assault or aggravated sexual assault. While Jessica’s Law provides this option to prosecutors for repeat predators of children, Gov. Perry is proposing it be expanded to include those who target adults. The governor also is proposing legislation requiring the active monitoring of high-risk sex offenders using tracking technology as part of the sex offender’s sentence, and requiring all high-risk registered sex offenders who have served their entire prison sentence be actively monitored for three years upon release from prison.
- A $1.7 million grant from the Governor’s Criminal Justice Division (CJD) to help TDCJ actively monitor all high-risk sex offenders on parole with tracking technology.
- The OAG, Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) and local law enforcement will work together to create Sex Offender Parole Violation Apprehension Teams, which will arrest high-risk sex offenders who have violated parole. These teams will coordinate with local law enforcement to conduct additional registration compliance checks on predatory, high-risk sex offenders.
- Encouraging governors across the country to enter into reciprocal agreements on sex offender registration to prevent individuals from circumventing sex offender registration laws by moving from one state to another. The governor also tasked DPS with providing recommendations to the Legislature on how to close loopholes related to out-of-state sex offenders.
The Texas Ten Most Wanted Sex Offenders list, which identifies violent sex offenders who have either violated their parole or failed to comply with sex offender registration, has led to the capture of six of these dangerous fugitives since its introduction in July 2010.
Rewards of up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest of a Texas Most Wanted Sex Offender are funded by CJD, with the support of the Texas Crime Stoppers Council and DPS.
Prospects for the International Migration of U.S.-Style Sex Offender Registration and Community Notification Laws
Sex offender registration and community notification laws have proved enormously popular in the U.S. This is so even though the avowed sexual violence preventive benefits of the laws remain largely untested and unproven; indeed, it remains an open question whether the laws actually have anti-therapeutic and criminogenic effect. This paper, part of a symposium, examines why this data deficit has characterized the social and political evolution of the laws and considers the prospects for the migration of U.S.-style registration and community notification to other nations.
By Emily Finnegan
MARION - In just a few days, many kids will put on their costumes and head out for trick-or-treating. And while Halloween is a lot of fun, it can also make parents a little nervous. There are a lot of things for parents to consider, including sex offenders in their neighborhoods.
In 2005, Illinois tightened its sex offender laws. Convicted sex offenders on probation or parole are now banned from passing out candy, having their porch light on, going outside or dressing in costume on Halloween. But that guideline does not apply to sex offenders no longer on probation or parole.
"If folks are concerned about the sex offenders on Halloween night, then I think they should go online and get a list of the registered sex offenders, which is public knowledge," said Marion Police Chief Gene Goolsby.
The sex offender registry is located on the Illinois State Police website. Parents can search by county to see all the registered sex offenders in their community, or enter an address to find those in their neighborhood.
In previous years the state police have done compliance checks on the sex offenders under the Halloween restrictions. Local authorities say they haven't yet been notified about any checks this year.
"I think the next thing parents should do is not drop their kids off at street somewhere and pick them up later," Goolsby said, "I think the parents should go with them. As a parent, I would want to do that. And I'd encourage all parents to do that."
Goolsby says parental presence can be as powerful as a marked police car in deterring crime in a community. He tells News 3 that Marion has very few problems on Halloween.
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