Katie Canton had met John in an Internet chat room when she was 15. In less than an hour of their first online communication, Canton was on the phone chatting with John, using a phone card number he provided her. It didn't take long after that for him to build enough trust to get her home number. Eventually, through daily conversations on the phone and the Internet, John was able to collect revealing details about her life: her high school, hangouts and her address. For Canton, a teen growing up in the early years of the Internet boom, the Internet represented a window for self expression and an avenue to explore curiosities, and predators like John readily exploit curious kids and teens with those needs. According to Canton, cell phones push curious kids far from the watchful eye of the parent. If the Internet is the wading pool, then cell phones are the deep end, and without a lifeguard, consequences of this type of child's play remain murky.
Katie Canton, now 22, is a dynamic speaker and presenter for school-age kids about the dangers of the Internet, using her personal experience as a cautionary tale. Through her interaction with today's digital kid and her own brush with a predator, she candidly offers her outlook on the risks technologies create for children.
"It scares me. It's all happening so fast," Canton says. "The world kids are growing up in changes so quickly that now, I can have everything on my computer in my palm, in my pocket." Canton believes that for all of the good technology does, it also offers a lot of opportunities for potential harm, especially to youngsters. She says Web sites like MySpace and chat room profiles combined with the digital devices kids carry with them make a predator's work all that much easier.
Canton works with Web Wise Kids, a nonprofit organization which aims to educate today's kids about making smart decisions online. When she speaks to teens, she tells them bluntly that they are easy targets. "It's one-stop shopping for predators," she warns. "[Predators] will know everything they need to say to be your best friend within five minutes just by looking at your page."
It was ultimately law enforcement that aided in the intervention between Canton and John. A friend of Canton's parents, a police officer in California, suggested that Canton play a game called "Missing," which made her realize her online boyfriend, John, was grooming her for sex. The officer followed up on Canton's online friend and discovered there was an ongoing rape investigation in which John was the main suspect and the victim a 13-year-old girl on the other side of the nation.
Thanks in part to Canton's testimony, John was ultimately convicted in the West Virginia case.Forensic solutions for cell phones
Extracting data from mobile devices is an increasingly vital tool in criminal investigations. Cell phone forensic tools have evolved along with advancing phones to be more compact and portable, providing a data extraction solution for departments of all sizes and officers of all specialties.
Most of the recent adaptations lean toward more user-friendly models and come with software to assist officers in decoding cell phone data they extract, then packaging it in an evidential manner that can be used in the case down the road.
The Orem, Utah-based forensic software company, Paraben Corp., plans to release its CSI Stick this month, says its CEO and co-founder Amber Schroader. This gadget is about the same size as a standard thumb drive, that can extract all of the active files on Motorola and Samsung models and transfer them to a PC. The device works with a software package, Device Seizure Lite (DS Lite), that acts as an interpret to the phone data.
"The whole idea behind it was that we take the ability to gather from cell phones in a forensically sound manner and give it to people who don't naturally deal with computers," Schroader says. "Forensics for the masses so to speak."
Paraben's goal with the CSI Stick was to market a device that anyone could use and make it so forensics didn't have to be stuck in a lab anymore. This tool can be used in the field and still maintain all the rules so users can extract court-approved, quality evidence.
The CSI Stick currently supports approximately 300 phone models and is currently developing support for LG and Nokia models.
Linda Davis, director of marketing for Logicube, a media duplication solution company based out of Chatsworth, California, says the CellDEK TEK was recently introduced to the digital forensic market. This data extraction unit is similar to Logicube's CellDEK—released in 2005 — however it allows investigators to use their own laptop or desktop PC, making it a scalable solution that can also be used on scene. A unique feature of the device is its light-up adapters. Investigators using this unit and software will have a visual cue once they've selected the model they're working with from the program, the corresponding adapter illuminates for efficient and easy use.