back to article Paedophiles ‘disguise’ child abuse pages as legit websites

Child abusers are latching onto new methods to distribute paedophilic material online, according to an annual report by the Internet Watch Foundation. The study, published on Monday, reports that paedophiles are ‘disguising’ websites to appear as if they host only legitimate content. However, if an internet user follows a …


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  1. JDX Gold badge

    "follows a particular digital path"

    Does that mean a bit like an old console game, you have to visit regular pages in some special order to 'unlock' the 'extra content'? Or is it actually nothing clever at all, as simple as going to

    1. John Riddoch

      Re: "follows a particular digital path"

      The fact that "ordinary online users had still found this content" suggests it wouldn't be simply typing in, rather more likely to be "visit pages in this order then click link X". This could use cookies, session IDs or simply dynamic pages based on Referrer: headers to set up the "breadcrumbs".

      Reminds me of the port knocking security method in a way.

      1. DJ Smiley

        Re: "follows a particular digital path"

        Or it was just a very long url which somehow got randomly uncovered (someone shared / typo'd?)

        for example:

        No one is going to deliberately type that in, and if nothing linked to it, no one would ever "guess" it either. They likely also look at the referer, and will only display if you came from a specific page previously. (Or none at all maybe?).

        Eitherway, good job IWF, nice to see that someone seems to be able to keep up with the changes in technology.

    2. ratfox Silver badge


      The one with the Konami game in the pockets...

    3. T J

      Re: "follows a particular digital path"

      Yup, you got it.

      This is a bit of a big FAIL for Reg journalism this story.

  2. Kurgan

    "digital path"...

    ... does it mean that you have to enter instead of

    How technically difficult. How hard to explain. It must be kept secret and undisclosed. Just say "follow a particular digital path", do not help criminals understand this technology.

    1. mark 63 Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: "digital path"...

      dammit kurgan you read my sarcasm!

    2. veti Silver badge

      Re: "digital path"...

      Do give people a little credit, please.

      If you enter into your address bar, you'll see only relatively innocuous smut.

      To get the hard stuff, you have to arrive at via a link from, and that link in turn will only appear if you come to that page via a link from, which can only be accessed via

    3. kb
      Thumb Down

      Re: "digital path"...

      They still need to give at least a very rough explanation of what a "digital path" is because that is so vague it could be frankly anything. the article might as well read 'pervs show pics if you do some stuff with a thing" for all the sense it made.

  3. Blofeld's Cat

    Ye gods...

    Was this really news to anyone outside the IWF and the like?

    This is just the "digital" equivalent of adult magazines arriving in a plain envelope.

  4. John Edwards

    I googled for something arcane that was article of commerce and about half the hits were for homosexual paedophile sites. There was no hint of slease in what I was looking for, no double entendre.The local nick gave me the email addy to report it to, I did, and that was that. Easy.

    John Edwards.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      couldn't agree more.

      I stumble across this stuff from time to time, maybe three times in the last five years. Just put it on CEOP. There's no need to get hysterical or to overreact.

      (Then find him not guilty in court so you can cut his filthy sicko balls off when he's got out of the pub after celebrating his acquital.)

      1. Elmer Phud Silver badge

        Re: couldn't agree more.

        "Then find him not guilty in court so you can cut his filthy sicko balls off when he's got out of the pub after celebrating his acquital"

        And don't forget to video it and post a link.

        1. Blofeld's Cat

          Re: couldn't agree more.

          "And don't forget to video it and post a link."

          You may want to hide that link.

          I believe there's a new technique available where visitors have to follow "a particular digital path" to access hidden content.

          Recursion: see "Recursion".

    2. Blofeld's Cat

      I know this is not the case here, but it is easy to search for something quite innocent and then discover that your search term is an euphemism for something nasty.

      From personal experience, I suggest that when searching for information on the atomic bombs used in WWII, it is not advisable to use their code names as the search term.

      Well not simultaneously anyway.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "I know this is not the case here, but it is easy to search for something quite innocent and then discover that your search term is an euphemism for something nasty."

        I wanted to know if latex paint would bond to the paint that'l already on my garage, so I though I'd do a search on latex bondage.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward


          A friend of mine is a little naive and a glass blower. There is a standard piece of glass blowing equipment called a glory hole. Add google, observe shock.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Do you have children?

      A UK news item I read recently told the sad tale of a community-minded man reporting a stumbled-on paedo site. His laptop has been confiscated and he is subject to an order that he is not allowed to be alone with his daughter. I expect he will be exonerated one day.

      He might be able to afford a new laptop. The damage done to himself and his relationship with a little girl who is, somehow, supposed to understand why she suddenly needs protection from her harmless dad is unimaginable.

      We need Social Services. Children need them. Could they please, though, take off the hobnail boots. I don't imagine that anyone who read that item would be inclined to do the right thing in these circumstances in the future.

      1. Dave Bell

        Re: Do you have children?

        That case was relatively local to me, and a week or two after I saw it reported, it was reported that the laptop had been returned and the restrictions ended.

        The man, it seemed, might have had his laptop exploited by Malware, and used as a distribution site. I don't claim expertise on such things, but most of the news media are capable of getting computer stuff badly wrong. Are Social Services any better at understanding the story they have?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Do you have children?

        I should really post a :-) when I'm being ironic, I got loads of down arrows there. My humour was so dry, even I found it unfunny.

        I've always thought social services was the way the government provided jobs to women and useless people who couldn't do anything but were middle class, and expected to feel valuable.

        I'm surrounded by social workers from Lord Laming's constituency. He, or so I read, smashed down the doors of a man whose daughter complained on a custody weekend with dad, that her mother's new boyfriend was molesting her, or something like that,,_Baron_Laming and he's about as senior as it gets.

        He's got a CBE, and honorary degree in "Science", and is in the house of lords, and the best thing that they can write about him on Wikipedia is that he wasn't jailed for incompetence.

        It's about as funny as taking an expert in scottish history and making him chancellor of the exchequer.

  5. hazzamon

    Following a particular digital path?

    "Welcome to Mozart's Ghost! The hottest band on the internet!"

    1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      Re: Following a particular digital path?

      Wow - you gave away you age there (and so have I) :)..

      You can't even buy that movie anymore (not on DVD anyway), despite it being one of the better ones about online risk..

      (Sandra Bullock, "The Net").

      1. Shakje

        Re: Following a particular digital path?

        Erm, what?

  6. Ben Tasker Silver badge

    Is this really news to anyone?

    I thought they'd been disguising their sites for quite some time, it is quite a logical step after all


    However, if an internet user follows a particular digital path they will be able to view vile images and videos of children being sexually abused.

    I don't know why, but this sentence seems very Daily Mail. I suspect it's the use of the word vile, we all know the images and the actions are vile so why include it? Probably being a little over picky here though.

    1. Tom 38 Silver badge

      Re: Is this really news to anyone?

      I would have thought the simplest solution would be DNS based, so only have one 'real' domain name pointing to a server, which serves plain content, but serving completely different content when requested under a different server name.

    2. Tom 35 Silver badge

      this sentence seems very Daily Mail

      There is also the "digital path" that sounds like some kind of High Tech thing to Joe Public but actually has no real meaning.

  7. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Sharers gonna share

    So does that mean the bizarre URLs like "muiblackcat" in the server log are not actually from bots?

  8. h4rm0ny

    I have never understood how peadophillia can exist.

    That's not a Daily Mail style hysterical reaction. I genuinely don't understand how (a) anyone can want this stuff in the first place and (b) how they could be willing to harm a child to get it even if they do.

    Is it a biological thing? Are some people simply wired to find something attractive that they shouldn't? Or is it some deep psychological complex? In either case, I don't even understand how such people can organize enough to network like this since they all ought to be so ashamed of their actions that raising their interests with other people should be impossible. I get the technical How of this story. But the Why is just beyond comprehension to me. (Thankfully, I suppose).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I have never understood how peadophillia can exist.

      If you went back a few decades (or to the right country even today), you could replace 'peadophillia' with 'homosexuality' in that kind of sentiment.

      I'm not quite sure what point I'm trying to make by that - certainly not to defend it in any way!

      1. Khaptain Silver badge

        Re: I have never understood how peadophillia can exist.

        I think, or at least from my understanding, that what you are trying to say is that it is a matter of ethics.

        Depending on the period in history and the country, homosexuality is/was considered as ethically unacceptable. Today it has changed and is now acceptable ( well at least in some countries).

        Peadophillia, is considered as unacceptable almost everywhere and therefore we treat these people as criminals. If peadophillia were ever to become acceptable, just as homosexuality did, then they would no longer be treated as criminals because "ethically" the consensus has changed.

        I could have used the right for women to vote, smoking, free speech. polygamy and a multitude of other values that have changed "ethically" throughout history.

        Peadophiles are only as digusting, dangerous, ( add your own adjectives here) as society has defined them to <ul>currently<ul> be. When Society changes its mind then the adjectives no longer have any validity.

        Ethically society evolves, whether it be in the right or wrong direction, although I can't really see the ethics of peadophilia being changed.

        ( Please do not mis-read the line about treating homosexuals as criminals, this is/was a fact not my personal thoughts).

      2. Keep Refrigerated

        Re: I have never understood how peadophillia can exist.

        Sexuality is not a straightforward topic and the debate about it's cause is far from over. I'm inclined to agree with people like Cynthia Nixon and Bert Archer. It's also a dangerous path we go down to state "born this way" because it can give sick people a justification and a place to hide.

        When you consider such things as heterosexuality, bisexuality, bestiality, paraphilia, objectophilia, fetishism and pedophilia (not passing judgement on any of these) - it's probably better to avoid sexual classification altogether and just understand humans as sexual beings that get aroused by certain things - and are able to 'learn', 'adapt' and become addicted to these as they do with other behaviours.

        Of course there is also genetic predisposition to consider - but as with something like smoking - you can be predisposed to smoking but not born a smoker. This is why personally I can consider a pedophile is 'sick' in need of psychological help; Also that it is a criminal choice to sexually abuse a child.

        On Topic: Much as I dislike the existence of the IWF, it's good to see some good use coming from it and actual irl children getting saved, not just some guy going to jail over pics on his computer.

        1. P. Lee Silver badge

          Re: I have never understood how peadophillia can exist.

          I know of at least 3 cases of child abuse (long past, children are now adults). I suspect the online presence is minute compared to the underlying problem. The problem with the internet (and print or any other media) is that it can turn isolated individuals' actions into an industry which feeds and supports those actions.

          A pedophile who feels a particular way deserves support and help (and I don't mean given a sandbox of cartoon images with which to indulge themselves). A pedophile who acts out their impulses has to be sanctioned by society. Just as a kleptomaniac should be given support, but their stealing results in sanctions. Whatever the natural impulse, there is always a choice which can be made when it comes to actions and indulging an impulse makes it harder to resist next time. A woman deserves to be protected from denigration for being a woman, but I'm not sure that a love of clothes-shopping should be similarly protected.

          Part of the problem is that certain lobbies have conflated "what I am" with "what I do," which makes it easy to transfer the legal protection given to people to the actions that they choose to undertake. That has gained them immense legal protection against people who might say mean things, but it has also made it easy to roll-up abhorrence for an action with hate for the individual performing the action. That might be handy for sound-bite politicians and hate-mongers, but it squashes rather than enhances reasoned debate about how to treat those who differ from the mainstream.

          "You and me baby ain't nothing but mammals," is the frivolous, recent and prevailing attitude presented at school and re-enforced by popular media. Unfortunately, on the Discovery Channel, many of the young are killed and eaten.

          Of course we all feel that pedophilia is wrong, but that's a dangerous basis for values. If I feel differently then my point of view is just as valid as yours. If two wrongs don't make a right, then 65m wrongs don't end up right either. Legal perhaps, but not right. Without a rational basis action, we end up swaying between trying to protect everything (actions, speech - ending up with tyrannical laws) and lynch-mobs out to impose "what all of us here think."

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. h4rm0ny

        Re: I have never understood how peadophillia can exist.

        Homosexuality can be between consenting, equal partners. Child abuse can never be.

        1. Vic

          Re: I have never understood how peadophillia can exist.

          > Child abuse can never be.

          Whilst that is true, the definition of "child" - and therefore "child abuse" - does rather depend on where you are.

          If you have sex with a 13-year old in the UK, that's child abuse. The same occurrence in Japan is probably lawful. In many European countries, sex with a 14-year old may be lawful.

          In Saudi Arabia, there is no age of consent - the requirement is only that the couple be married, and there is no legal age limit on marriage.

          So whilst it is right to get hot under the collar about children being abused, we do need to realise that *our* definition of same might not tally well with someone else's defnition.


          1. Is it me?

            The age of consent

            In the UK the legal age for Marriage was 12 for Girls and 14 for boys until 1929 when it was raised to 16. Other european countries were much later, even into the 1970s. Consent for Marriage could be given as early as 7.

            Modern health provision has greatly extended lifespans, and we no longer need to breed at a young age, we can allow our children to have a much longer childhood, even in the early 20th century life expectancy was only around 30 years, though much higher if you made it past 21. For the gentry the need to ensure the heir and spare, and the daughters for alliances is no longer an issue.

            Attitudes to child protection have changed markedly for the better over the last 100 years, childbirth, child and infant mortality has dropped in the western world. In fact I think, I'd raise the legal age of consent to 25, well perhaps not. There are still places in the world where, once a child has passed puberty they are considered an adult, thankfully not in the UK anymore.

            1. This post has been deleted by its author

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              peadophillia a completely devalued term....

              In the past it used to be easy. People who looked at child porn were bad and vile, because real children were usually abused for it's production. Now it is not so clear, as what is now termed a child 'abuse' image has changed over time. First it changed to children just in their underwear shot with a telephoto lenses, could be an 'abuse' image. Then it changed from meaning someone under 16 to someone under 18. So all those Sun readers looking at 16 year olds posing top-less like Lindsey Dawn Mackenzie, were now pados. Then it became any depiction of anyone who gave the 'impression' of being under 18, or in the presence of an under 18 year old, even if a stick drawing. So the 'abuse' in a child abuse image became contradiction since the 'child' may not be a child but over the age of consent and therefore able to consent to the activity or not even exist at all to be abused.

              Also the usage for the term paedophilia changed. It used to mean an attraction to pre-pubescent children (the clinical definition), an attraction that is obviously hard to understand / empathise with. Now you can be a paedo if caught looking at a depiction of a 17 year old. That is not as hard to understand, as the age of consent laws say that it is not illegal or wrong to find people over the age of 16 attractive (though some may find it creepy if there is a large age difference), or do naughty stuff with them, just don't take pictures or make a drawing of what you did, as only then are you a paedo.

              My point is that in the past it was hard to understand how paedophilia could exist as it was so deviant from normal behaviour, but today it is not so hard to understand as the term has been so perverted, from it's original meaning, to be something that is used to describe behaviour that is no all that deviant. Now the same term is used to describe someone having impure thoughts about a 1 year and also someone having a sexual picture of busty 17 year old. It has now completely lost it's disgust value (at least to me). Now when I see a report saying 'peado caught', I reserve my disgust until I find out what they were actually caught doing. I wish others would do the same.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I have never understood how peadophillia can exist.

          The use of 'abuse' is rather emotive too. It suggests that all pedos get kicks from hurting or demeaning the children in sick ways, rather than simply that they are turned on by children . People get kicks abusing adults too, so I think there's a distinction to be made between those who want to own/control/dominate, and those who are attracted to, whoever the 'target' is.

          For instance a picture of a naked child taken while they play in the paddling pool is not actually harming the child; the way pedos are stereotyped however suggests they only share photos of kids being raped/tortured/etc.

    2. mootpoint

      Re: I have never understood how peadophillia can exist.

      I think a lot of paedophiles were abused themselves as children, and are caught up into perpetuating what was visited on them. - "man hands on misery to man". They must also be some of the loneliest people on earth, which I suppose is part of the motivation for "sharing". The sad thing is that there is so much hysteria and revulsion over this topic that there is almost no sensible discussion of treatment, any treatment centres get shut down because no-one wants them in their neighbourhood and the whole thing gets driven underground.

    3. heyrick Silver badge

      A sense of perspective?

      All this fuss... and three children were rescued. How many were abused by members of their own family (with no intention of making photos)? How many were killed in car crashes? Or bullied to the extent where they try to take their own lives? Or shot in the head by crazed Islamic fundamentalists...or equally crazed American soldiers?

      Don't get me wrong, castration is what online paedos deserve, however there are many things that harm children; why is it that we seem to be blind to some of them while running around like headless chickens over others?

      1. Steve Ives

        Re: A sense of perspective?

        This was touched upon in the book 'Freakonomics'. The actual risk of danger is overshadowed by the horror/disgust of the possible outcome e.g. John and Mary won't let their little girl play at her friend's Ashley's house, as Ashley's father has a gun and the girls might find it. and start playing with it. She can, however, go and play with Kaitlin, whose family has nice house with a pool. This is despite the fact that apparently, the pool is 500 times more likely to kill their daughter than the gun.

        The headline "Little girl dies in pool accident" evokes commants of "What a shame" and feelings of sadness. "Little girls dies after playing with friend's father's gun" causes outrage and horror and a determination to get tough on guns.


    4. John Smith 19 Gold badge

      Re: I have never understood how peadophillia can exist.

      Well to put it bluntly in the words of Ray Wyre.

      "Because they like it."

      It's not your thing. It's not my thing. It is however *their* thing.

      An observation that *could* be made of all of the paraphilas. The difference is its effect on the object of their "affection".

      You feel disgust. They feel arousal (and *possibly* some disgust). You don't have to understand *why* but you do have to understand they don't see the world the way do.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I have never understood how peadophillia can exist.

      It's easy to understand when you remember one thing. When they say "abuse vile abusers disguising vile abused abuse abuse abusive abuse depraved rape torture abuse abuse abuse victims abuse abused Exploitation abused abuse abusers" you have to mentally substitute the Virgin Killer album cover, i.e. the one picture we actually know fits their definition of a "child abuse image".

      Personally, I don't find that picture horrifying. I don't find it erotic either, but I can understand why someone else might... especially if that darn broken glass wasn't here.

      In all seriousness, I'm sure there are some genuinely horrifying pictures out there, but if I were to take a guess (which is all I can do, since IWF et al won't tell us and we can't legally look for ourselves) I was say the album cover is actually a far more typical of the average "indecent image of a child" (to use the actual legal term for a change) floating around out there.

  9. censored

    They can also...

    make penis-shaped soundwave come out of your speaker. Plus, a peadophile in a microlight committed an overhead atrocity.

    1. joeW

      Re: They can also...

      You're not just talking sense. You're talking... Nonce sense!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: They can also...

        Genetically Pedophiles have more in common with crabs than you or I, there's no real evidence for it, but it is scientific fact.

  10. The Fuzzy Wotnot

    "In total seven children have been rescued since information-sharing arrangements between the IWF and CEOP were put in place two years ago."

    I know that even just one child being saved from a living hell is a victory but only seven kids saved in two years, still seems and incredibly low number.

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge

      Unless there just aren't *that* many unique children out there

      In which case it makes perfect sense.

      That of course would suggest the problem was at a pretty low level and IRL you'd be better off training local Social Services departments to improve their ability to spot "care givers" whose behavior is "inappropriate", as you'd probably find most child molesters are too busy molesting to make videos.

      As the Americans realized *decades* ago *most* abuse is not by Mr Random Perve, but by someone the child sees regularly.

      This is one of those problems that IT can help a *bit* but the root cause is *people*, not pictures.

      1. Tasogare

        Re: "As the Americans realized *decades* ago...."

        I beg to differ. We haven't figured that one out either. Far easier to fear the bogeyman than acknowledge the proverbial elephant.


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