back to article Ex US cybersecurity czar guilty in child sex abuse website case

A top government cybersecurity official who secretly joined an online pedophile network to swap child sex abuse material and rape fantasies has been convicted. Timothy DeFoggi, 56, is described by the US Department of Justice as being the former acting director of cyber security at Uncle Sam's Department of Health and Human …

  1. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Department of H and HS is looking for national security threats?

    And he expected the FBI and possibly a jury to believe him? This country is in serious trouble with people like him being in upper management of the government. Can we somehow start over? I'm wondering what other officials are doing to enhance national security?

    What's next? Department of Energy types checking out on-line gambling sites to invest the treasury money maybe?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Department of H and HS is looking for national security threats?

      You had the Secretary of the Treasury with tax issues and had an illegal on his payroll.

      The government is no longer for the people but for themselves and their "club".

      1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

        Re: Department of H and HS is looking for national security threats?

        What do you mean - "no longer"?

    2. Turtle

      Re: Department of H and HS is looking for national security threats?

      "This country is in serious trouble with people like him being in upper management of the government. "

      You think that the people who hired him knew this about him? Or perhaps you think that there is some way to tell who is like this and who isn't? You might not know or be capable of believing this, but people like this, i.e, serial killers and serial rapists, child abusers and pedophiles, and in fact all kinds of people who have interests and predilections which constitute a danger to their lives and liberty, very often have learned how to hide those interests and predilections very effectively.

      That someone hired this child abuser is in no way any kind of reflection on the people who hired him, and to think otherwise is to completely misunderstand how difficult it is to unmask such people.

      As to what he told and expected the FBI and a jury to believe, well, sometimes the choice is between telling unbelievable stories and hope to get someone, even perhaps a lone juror, to believe them, or to simply plead guilty and resign oneself to spending decades in prison. Faced with the choice, plenty of people will attempt to sell the unbelievable story.

    3. sisk Silver badge

      Re: Department of H and HS is looking for national security threats?

      Can we somehow start over?

      Yep. It's actually quite easy to do once we get everyone to agree to do it. All we have to do is vote all their corrupt asses out of office over the course of the next few years.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Department of H and HS is looking for national security threats?

        "All we have to do is vote all their corrupt asses out of office..."

        Not quite so easy—need to have people to replace them! MAYBE you can find a handful of highly-principled, incorruptible people who are willing to hold high office... but I seriously doubt that enough exist on the planet to fill the whole of Congress.

        As Lord Acton famously said, "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men."

        1. sisk Silver badge

          Re: Department of H and HS is looking for national security threats?

          That's where term limits come in. Yes, they're all corruptible, but the worst ones are the ones who've been there for 20 years and have no plans on leaving any time soon. That and they're less likely to be as bad if they know that they're going to have to go back to living under the laws they make in 4-8 years.

  2. moiety

    He doesn't seem to have been very good at cybersecurity for a 'czar'.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Who Guards the Guards

    but the Guards themselves?

    Who Judges the Judges?

    1. TheFinn

      Re: Who Guards the Guards

      Superjudge?

      1. Invis Intellectual

        Re: Who Guards the Guards

        Judge Dredd ;)

    2. Fungus Bob Silver badge

      Re: Who Guards the Guards

      Judge Judy

  4. Yugguy

    He's just as guilty

    In my not so humble opinion those who view and disemminate are as guilty as those who perform the abuse.

    Give me a locked room and a baseball bat and I'll solve your prison over-crowding and recidivism problems for you.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: He's just as guilty

      As someone that was abused as a child, I think attitudes like this don't help at all.

      A part of coming to terms with what happened to me means I have read up on things like this (I'm probably on some GCHQ/NSA watchlist as a result) and come to the depressing conclusion that it's not treated as it should like any other mental illness. If someone is a cleptomaniac, sure they will be arrested initially, but also treated, similarly those with substance abuse problems can go for confidential treatment to help them. Someone that is attracted to children, even if they don't want to or ever will abuse a child have no such luxury. If they went to their doctor, what is the first thing he/she is going to do? most likely call in the police "just in case" and their lives will potentially be destroyed, even though they have done nothing wrong.

      This is different to the obviously depraved people that do this for the thrill of corrupting something innocent, or who do it purely as a power trip. This leaves the "innocent" paedophile isolated and probably causes quite a few to just give in to it as they are damned if they try to get any help.

      I'm not trying to defend anyone here, but they system needs to change from this knee jerk mob mentality and offer help to these people before they can do any harm.

      Roll on the downvotes.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: He's just as guilty

        I agree. There are always degrees of nastiness, even within a nasty crime. If someone had abused my child, and later someone else unconnected with the original abuse had viewed pictures of it, and then both came to court and were sentenced - Both are nasty, but I would feel that a grave injustice had been done if the system failed to distinguish between them, and did not punish the person that had actually made contact with and subsequently physically abused and harmed my child, more harshly than someone else who sat in a room somewhere and saw a picture of it.

      2. DiViDeD Silver badge

        Re: He's just as guilty

        "..system needs to change from this knee jerk mob mentality and offer help to these people before they can do any harm."

        Too right. It's accepted that an overwhelming majority of actual paedophiles (ie not those simply moving on to the next bit of depravity because they haven't tried it yet) were abused as children. We have enormous sympathy for the abused child right up to the time when that child becomes an adultpaedophile, at which point our attitude changes from 'poor dear' to 'sick fuck'.

        Nobody could advocate that child abuse is right, but as the AC says, it isn't something they can talk to their GP about, nor is it, generally, something for which a judge would recommend treatment (or at least any treatment beyond 'a damn good kicking in the showers while the guards look the other way').

        And the current legislation which means you can go to prison for being in possession of a cartoon or a photograph of a grown woman who looks a bit like she might be under 18 takes away any possibility of release for paedophiles other than actually abusing a child.

      3. Yugguy

        Re: He's just as guilty

        Is there such a thing as an "innocent" paedophile? These people create the demand for abuse to occur. By viewing the material they are complicit in the crime. If they REALLY want help they should seek it BEFORE they start trawling the dark net.

        My reaction is NOT knee jerk. It is the result of knowing people deeply affected by abuse.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: He's just as guilty

          [i]If they REALLY want help they should seek it BEFORE they start trawling the dark net.[/i]

          Which is what I was talking about, currently there is no way for them to seek help before they do anything wrong without basically destroying theirs and their friends/families lives.

          [i]My reaction is NOT knee jerk. It is the result of knowing people deeply affected by abuse.[/i]

          I think offering to euthanize someone with a large piece of wood counts as knee jerk. If someone has committed a crime, the law punishes them accordingly (unless you are a media mogul/professional footballer/pop star), and thankfully the law has evolved past caveman levels of unrestrained violence.

          My point is that it isn't being treated as a serious mental disorder, and those with an uncontrollable compulsion aren't being offered confidential treatment in the same way someone with other disorders can receive.

          There needs to be a clear distinction between someone with a compulsive disorder and someone that seeks to commit harm to a child for their own reasons.

          If we can help these people, not judge them as evil predators, but as someone that needs and wants treatment, then that will save more children than waiting for someone to mess up online and be caught.

          I was "deeply affected by abuse" and I'm trying to think up a better [b]long term[b] solution than what currently exists because it's such an emotive subject and nobody wants to talk about it for fear of being labelled a "paedo lover"

    2. This post has been deleted by a moderator

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Fortunately for you...@Anon

        Bullshit. According to this article, this guy was locked up just for posting on facebook "violent rap-style Facebook rants" - all he did, according to your rules, was "talk and think and write about murdering people" (admittedly it was guns, not baseball bats, but you get the point), yet he ended up in prison for it, he was treated as being just as guilty.

    3. el_oscuro

      Re: He's just as guilty

      Don't worry. This is the US prison system. He will be Bubba's bitch as soon as he gets there. I doubt he will last more than a few weeks...

  5. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    A question

    - Obviously incompetent at his job

    - Perverted by nature

    - Not the brightest star in the sky

    - Trying to hide behind "national security" when caught

    Is it a typical example of a modern civil servant?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A question

      He would be a typical NSA employee

    2. Fungus Bob Silver badge

      Re: A question

      "Is it a typical example of a modern civil servant?"

      He is the very model of a modern beltway bureaucrat

  6. Red Bren
    Holmes

    Absence of evidence = evidence of deletion?

    "His lawyer claimed investigators didn't find any of the vile images on computers at his home, but the prosecution said that he had used specialized software to erase them from his systems."

    How are you supposed to defend yourself from the accusation "We couldn't find any images, which PROVES you had them and deleted them as thoroughly as if they had never existed!"?

    What next? "The watertight alibi, the lack of bodies or missing person reports PROVES you're a serial killer who is very good at covering your tracks!"

    In this case, there was plenty of other evidence to secure a conviction, but I still find it worrying that the prosecution can make unsubstantiated claims.

    1. Thomas Whipp

      Re: Absence of evidence = evidence of deletion?

      The standard is reasonable doubt for a jury

      In fairness, the article did say that when the house was raided they found him looking at the site! Lack of one particular piece of evidence within the context of a wider set of evidence isn't a water tight defence.

      Total lack of images being found on the PC when you are known to have viewed the content at least once is arguably pretty damning - especially if the prosecutor can point to a known secure deletion utility (not sure if that's the case in this one).

      Having done a number of IT investigations over the years, gaps or missing information can be pretty damn suspicious within a wider pattern of evidence. Its certainly not supportive of a casual / accidental viewing of a couple of images.

    2. Brian Miller

      Re: Absence of evidence = evidence of deletion?

      The article on Wired says that the investigators put malware on the site, which was "placed" on the visitor's machines. The machine's address, MAC address, various other identifiers, and Tor browsing history were gathered.

      Plus when the agents executed their search warrant, DeFoggi was in the process of downloading a porn video, and the agents had to physically wrest the notebook computer from him.

      So, yeah, they caught him in the act, and they had plenty of evidence.

  7. JaitcH
    WTF?

    Reminds me of Scott Ritter and the FBI SOP

    Ritter was a UN weapons inspector in Iraq from 1991 to 1998, and later a critic of US foreign policy. Prior to the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March 2003, Ritter stated that Iraq possessed no significant weapons of mass destruction (WMD) capabilities.

    This upset the Bush regime.

    In 2001, Ritter was detained and arrested on charges of soliciting minors for sex on the InterNet that were both dismissed. The FBI worked it's 'magic' and Ritter was arrested on similar charges in 2010 that led to a conviction and sentence of one and a half to five and a half years.

    It's amazing what Photoshop and other software can be used for.

  8. Mephistro Silver badge
    Devil

    Obligatory reference:

    “Do you know the one about the chap applying for a job in the Foreign Office? ‘Look here, Carruthers’ they say, ‘we like the cut of your jib, but we can’t overlook the fact that you’ve done a spot of time for buggery, arson and rape. . . .’

    ‘Perfectly simple explanation,’ says Carruthers. ‘Loved a girl who wouldn’t let me diddle her, so I banged her on the head, raped her, shafted her old dad and set fire to the house.’

    ‘Okay, Carruthers,’ say the selector chaps. ‘We knew there’d be a reasonable explanation. Here’sthe deal. Keep away from the girls in the typing pool, no playing with matches, give us a kiss and you

    can have the job.’”

    From "The Night Manager" by John Le Carré

  9. UNIX translator

    One of Obama's Limousine Liberal Democrats no doubt .......... until he got found out ofc !

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cybersecurity Expert used TOR ..

    “The malware that investigators installed remotely on the machines of visitors to [these child pornography] sites was designed to identify the computer’s IP address as well as its MAC address and other identifiers. The results were coordinated raids in April 2013 that swept up more than a dozen suspects.”

    http://www.wired.com/2014/08/federal-cybersecurity-director-guilty-child-porn-charges/

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I am one of the first people I know of to call for the prosecution of people who downloaded child porn images on the basis that they were guilty of aiding and abetting the people who abuse children. That was many years ago.

    Little did I realise that this meant the police would go after the 'low hanging fruit' and leave the abusers alone. I know this will earn me a lot of down votes, but anyone who's been following the Rotherham affair will note that the British police have been proudly touting their success at catching people who've downloaded images and completely ignoring these abusers. In fact it seems that anyone who raised the issue faced persecution, even arrest:

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/aug/26/rotherham-abuse-report-protection-not-blame

    and

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2734694/It-hard-appalling-nature-abuse-child-victims-suffered-1-400-children-sexually-exploited-just-one-town-16-year-period-report-reveals.html

    The priority should always be to arrest the people abusing children and making these sort of images, not to prioritise the consumers.

    Admittedly the cybersecurity 'czar' deserves to lose his job, and maybe face prosecution, but I can't help but agree that some sort of intervention that includes helping people with these tendencies should be implemented.

    Posting anonymously because free expression is a dangerous thing to be guilty of in the UK.

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