Online predators are stalking children’s webcams, study reveals

There has been a tenfold increase in sexual abuse imagery created with webcams and other recording devices worldwide since 2019, according to the Internet Watch Foundation. Social media sites and chatrooms are the most common methods to facilitate contact with kids, and abuse occurs online and offline. Increasingly, predators are using advances in technology to engage in technology-facilitated sexual abuse. Once a child has gained access to a webcam, a predator can use it to record, produce and distribute child pornography. We are criminologists who study cybercrime and cybersecurity. Our current research examines online predators’ methods to compromise children’s webcams. To do this, we posed online as children to observe active online predators in action. Chatbots We began by creating several automated chatbots disguised as 13-year-old girls. We deployed these chatbots as bait for online predators in various chatrooms frequently used by children to socialize. The bots never initiated conversations and were programmed to respond only to users who identified as over 18 years of age. We programmed the bots to begin each conversation by stating their age, sex, and location. This is common practice in chatroom culture and ensured the conversations logged were with adults over the age of 18 who were knowingly and willingly chatting with a minor. Though it’s possible some subjects were underage and posing as adults, previous research shows online predators usually represent themselves as younger than they actually are, not older. Image: KnowTechie Most prior studies of child sexual abuse rely on historical data from police reports, which provides an outdated depiction of the tactics…Online predators are stalking children’s webcams, study reveals

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