Industry praised for help in breaking child porn ring

Police have praised the role played by the IT industry in securing the convictions of seven UK men involved in the Wonderland...

Police have praised the role played by the IT industry in securing the convictions of seven UK men involved in the Wonderland international child porn ring.

James Rogers

Three of the group, Ian Baldock, Antoni Skinner and Gavin Seagers, had been working as computer consultants. They each received sentences of between two years and 30 months at Kingston Crown Court earlier this week.

According to the National Crime Squad, the trio used their skills to build advanced security into the group's Web site. This forced Police investigators to employ the help of IT consultants and ISPs during a three-year investigation, which unearthed 750,000 paedophilic images from over 100 Wonderland members worldwide.

Detective Chief Inspector Alex Wood of the National Crime Squad explained, "The defendants' expertise was used by other members of the group to enhance the site's security. The two types of encryption that they used were Bestcrypt and PGP (Pretty Good Privacy)."

As well as the likes of PGP, a commercial program that encrypts e-mail, the group also employed an encryption algorithim called Blowfish, which police described as providing "military style" security.

Wood said experts from the IT industry played a key role in breaking through Wonderland's encryption, a difficult task given that the club was hidden within an Internet relay chat server.

"Working within legal and ethical constraints, we made use of the expertise of two IT consultants, who do not want to be named. The fact that some of the Wonderland members were less technically able than others meant that the consultants were eventually able to bypass the encryption," he said.

james.rogers@rbi.co.uk

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