Intercepting the chatroom paedophiles

Parents could receive e-mail alerts warning them that their children are being asked to meet strangers in internet chatrooms, using an anti-grooming system developed in the UK.

The system, created by UK software firm Nöstrad, identifies key words and word combinations such as enquiries about mobile phone numbers, how and when to meet and whether parents are at home. This automatically triggers an e-mail alert.Entire chat room conversations can be recorded by the system, which also logs all keystrokes and monitors web page visits.

The system, known as e-blaster, went on sale last week. Nöstrad worked with a US consumer software specialist and an unnamed charity to develop the product, said managing director Mike Parr.

‘We’ve developed it over the past couple of years. We took an historical audit package for companies and changed it to include internet access auditing. We worked with a US firm to make it user-friendly and also with a charity to identify a standard grooming conversation. So we keep the alert words down to a minimum to capture any permutation of requests to meet.’

As e-blaster records web page visits and entire chatroom conversations, the system captures only text, so as to reduce data storage requirements and prevent the user’s hard drive from being overwhelmed with data.

The system begins to delete data once it is 10 days old, although those monitoring the users can opt to store information for as long as they wish. The software is hidden from view on the hard drive to prevent others from tampering with it, said Parr.

Just to get as far as the anonymous password dialogue box to gain access to the system requires a complex set of keystrokes, and Parr claimed that even an extensive search of Windows files will not identify the program.

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