Feeds

Software hunts for Net paedos

Nanniebots take the Turing test

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Protecting against web application threats using SSL

Software agents that mimic the behaviour of real children are been used to detect paedophile grooming behaviour on the Internet.

Called ChatNannies, the technology is the brainchild of IT consultant Jim Wightman, of Wolverhampton in the UK. The software runs with thousands of sub-programs - dubbed nanniebots - which log onto chatrooms and make conversations with youngsters there.

While engaging in pop-culture inanities, the program analyses the behaviour of other participants in a chat room looking for tell-tale signs of grooming or slip-ups that suggest a user is an adult and not the child he might claim to be.

The software emails suspicious conversations to Wrightman, who screens theses messages prior to passing details of suspect users (IP address etc.) and transcripts over to the police.

We imagine the software generated plenty of false positives, particular when the technology was first used.

Wightman told New Scientist his tip-offs have led to police investigations, though this remains unconfirmed, perhaps unsurprisingly. It's standard police practice (at least in the UK) not to talk publicly about active investigations.

No-one has detected the bots, Wightman added. Given the short duration and limited scope of chat room conversations this is plausible.

ChatNannies uses a neural network program build up knowledge and refine their responses. Each of the bots is programmed to display distinct "personalities". The technology is capable of updating itself with pop culture trivia gleaned from the Internet.

Wightman doesn't want to sell his software or turn his technology into a business. However he would welcome financial support for government-run child protection bodies so that he can expand his system beyond four servers at his work. ®

Related stories

Watch out! There's a chatroom paedophile about
Pervert! You're using the Internet
Govt unveils Web kids safety campaign
Paedophile gets five-year net ban
UK Net paedo crackdown bags 600

The next step in data security

More from The Register

next story
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
'Windows 9' LEAK: Microsoft's playing catchup with Linux
Multiple desktops and live tiles in restored Start button star in new vids
iOS 8 release: WebGL now runs everywhere. Hurrah for 3D graphics!
HTML 5's pretty neat ... when your browser supports it
Mathematica hits the Web
Wolfram embraces the cloud, promies private cloud cut of its number-cruncher
Google extends app refund window to two hours
You now have 120 minutes to finish that game instead of 15
Intel: Hey, enterprises, drop everything and DO HADOOP
Big Data analytics projected to run on more servers than any other app
Mozilla shutters Labs, tells nobody it's been dead for five months
Staffer's blog reveals all as projects languish on GitHub
SUSE Linux owner Attachmate gobbled by Micro Focus for $2.3bn
Merger will lead to mainframe and COBOL powerhouse
iOS 8 Healthkit gets a bug SO Apple KILLS it. That's real healthcare!
Not fit for purpose on day of launch, says Cupertino
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.