LTU and Microsoft Join Forces to Catch Cyber-Criminals

To turbo-charge child-abuse investigations, LTU Technologies has combined two investigative tools that will provide enhanced resources for victim identification and rescue. In response to a request by the Italian Police, the Child Exploitation Tracking System (CETS) and LTU's Image-Seeker have been linked to expand and accelerate evidence research associated with rescuing child-abuse victims.

The CETS security-enhanced database is designed to work with existing offender-tracking systems in various global jurisdictions, which allows investigators to tap into the data and make connections that would help them to more effectively track, locate, and ultimately arrest offenders. Created in 2003, CETS is the result of a broad collaboration between Microsoft Canada and the Canadian law enforcement including the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Toronto Police Service, Ontario Provincial Police, Sûreté du Québec, and other government agencies.

LTU Technologies provides image search and recognition solutions, in particular for applications within the government sector, including child abuse and stolen art investigations, computer forensics, intelligence, and counter-terrorism. The combined Microsoft-LTU solution is intended to shift the power of internet out of the hands of predators back in the hands of the police. LTU hopes that the successful integration of its Image Seeker with CETS will be one other law enforcement agencies will emulate.

Connecting to the Image-Seeker, which enhances image analysis capability for computer forensics tools, allows agents using CETS to identify related images in the database. The solution will help the Italian police (Polizia delle Comunicazioni) verify if suspected images, from websites or seized from perpetrators, were in previous or ongoing investigations.

"The focus of CETS is to track and exchange information on known offenders, traffickers of abusive images, financial transactions, messaging identities, chatroom discussions—which may be useful in determining the identity of victims and perpetrators," according to Chahab Nastar, CEO of LTU Technologies. "LTU concentrates on the visuals, providing evidence in these high volumes of images."

The combined solution is designed to enable the immediate analysis of images seized from suspects' computers, to help eliminate the long backlogs in computer forensic labs. This ability lets agents share the multimedia information and assemble clues to help identify the sites and identities of victims.

The Italian police department manages the national database of known images, and delivers access to the Image-Seeker database to authorized CETS users. Microsoft assists the agency's technical officers in establishing automatic links between individual case images and the LTU image database system.

The combined approach brings new expertise and contributions in producing a more effective response. "Sharing and exchanging information is one of the most powerful tools law enforcement agencies possess to battle against online child exploitation," says David Hemler, president of Microsoft Canada. "By collaborating with law and government agencies, we can use our combined expertise to better protect our children online."

The companies believe that this collaboration offers great potential for the law enforcement customers around the world to develop technical solutions to address the daily challenges facing forensic examiners and first responders. "The increase in accuracy for search to classify and categorize data is the main goal of LTU," says Smith. "This platform is a step forward for investigating cases and a paradigm shift for CETS," he says.

"Criminals use the internet at an unprecedented rate to exploit the most vulnerable of our society— our children," says the Honorable Anne McLellan, deputy prime minister and minister of public safety and emergency preparedness of Ontario. "I commend the law enforcement and Microsoft for their vision and leadership in creating a tool unlike any other in the world that will help keep our children safe from online predators."

With the combined force of LTU's Image-Seeker and Microsoft's CETS, the Italian Police are better armed to battle internet predators, and to pave the way for a more effective, unified front worldwide.