I hope there is more evidence than what is in this story and I hope this evidence is really compelling. If the man is actually guilty of child pornography related offenses then I hope he is charged and convicted to the full extent of the law. I was driving into work and heard this story on the news and it got me thinking about how easy it would be to frame someone with child porn or other incriminating evidence and then just ‘tip’ off the police.
Presently, I am putting the finishing touches on an advanced security course geared toward service providers. Shortly, I will be running this course for a major service provider. In the course we do actual malware deployment and analysis. The malware used is reasonably up-to-date and can be found active on the Internet today. The malware is very easy to use. Much easier than it was even 2 years ago. In some cases the malware uses standard libraries designed to write malware that are available on the Internet. One of the malware samples used for this course includes the ability to write ‘plug-ins’, similar to how you can write a plug-in for a web browser such as Firefox.
I am confident that law enforcement will do a detailed investigation of the suspects computers in the story above. But I’d argue that today it is possible to get malicious code, pictures or any type of incriminating evidence onto a PC leaving minimal to no trace behind. I’d suggest that this has gotten easier over the years and will probably get easier in the future. I and others have worked with malware that doesn’t ever write to storage, but stays resident in memory. Even if there is evidence left on the suspect system, does law enforcement do a detailed analysis for every complaint? I doubt they have the resources for that. For the sake of argument, lets assume that they do have the resources to do a detailed investigation of every system. Lets also assume that the investigation revealed that the evidence was planted externally and the owner had no knowledge of its existence and is innocent. Unfortunately it isn’t over for the owner when the investigation is concluded. There will be issues that will follow them for the rest of their lives. There will be the embarrassment of being suspected of a criminal act. The record of the arrest which can make it difficult to travel in the future even if there is no conviction. Looks and suspicions of others always wondering “Was he really innocent or did he just get lucky and is really guilty?”