Patrolling the Internet


By Jordan 

Still on the fence about Second Life? The internet-based virtual world du jour, launched in 2003, now lists over 20 million users. More interesting however, is a recent article from AP writer Brian Bergstein which shows how police departments across the country are incorporating social networking sites into their regular beats. Although many departments already have the capabilities to implement computer forensic analysis, the mass popularity of sites like Second Life and social juggernauts Facebook and MySpace, have allowed police new ways to track criminal activity –by entering the digital age.

The article notes that with the advent of these networks, criminals and victims alike are leaving clues on their profile pages, in online diary entries or through web conversation. Just recently while surfing on MySpace, I was somewhat surprised to come across a public MySpace page of an openly admitted gang member. Who knew MySpace was the place to share gang tips…

One of the best points made in Bergstein’s story is a quote from a computer crimes investigator for the Virginia Attorney General; “Police need to incorporate Internet analysis into just about every investigation. In the coming years, asking whether a police department has a distinct cybercrime unit will be like asking if there’s a telephone squad.”

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