Illegal images of child sexual abuse can be found on any device

Illegal images of child sexual abuse can be found on any device
20 November, 2017 Anna Borgström
In Business, Reports and research

Illegal images of child sexual abuse can be found on any device

It can be surprising to learn that more than two thirds, 70 per cent, of the police officers that responded to the NetClean 2016 Report, reported working on cases that involved child sexual abuse material found on work computers during the last year.

Cases were found both in the public and private sector; sometimes in companies and organisations where the employees had been told that software to detect child sexual abuse images had been installed.  As private ownership of computers is so high we asked Christian Berg, founder of NetClean to elaborate on why people use workplace computers to download illegal material:

The majority of child sexual abuse material that law enforcement finds in investigations is stored on private storage devices, such as hard drives, computers, mobile phones and cloud services. However, even though the material is often stored on private devices, it can be downloaded, shared and consumed in other ways – including on a work computer.

Our experience working with customers in both the private and public sector, indicates that one or two people in a thousand, access child sexual abuse material from their work computer. In these cases, the organisations in question have clearly informed their employees that they have a system in place to detect illicit material. The real number is likely higher.

In addition, five to eight cases every month are reported to The Swedish Police (The National Operational Department, NOA) from companies that have discovered child sexual abuse crime using our software. That means that there are more than 80 cases every year reported where people have handled child sexual abuse material on their computer – and that figure only applies to cases that have been reported to NOA (for example some cases are instead reported directly to the local police).

It may appear strange that people use their work computer to search for, download and look at child sexual abuse material. But, it’s not as strange as it sounds. The work computer is often perceived as one of the most private possessions employees own. While other computers, tablets and mobile phones are often used by the whole family, typically it is perceived that no one else handles the work computer. It is also often portable and easy to carry.

Most commonly the work computer is used to look at material that an employee has taken with them. This is confirmed by the fact that most alarms that our customers have, come via a USB stick. One reason for choosing to store images and physically bring them may be because child sexual abuse images constantly move and disappear from the internet. Images are therefore downloaded and the USB is perceived as a safe way to store them.