#CyberFLASH: Privacy measures allow criminals to hide their dirty deeds from police

krawczyk01.jpg.size.xxlarge.letterboxToronto police Det. Paul Krawczyk is posing as a pedophile in an online chat forum where anonymous men are sharing some of the most troubling thoughts the mind can fathom — from luring young children for sex to feeding them rape drugs.

“This person has told me … they’re interested sexually in 3-year-olds to 9-year-olds,” says Krawczyk, a senior child exploitation investigator, reading a message sent on a “boy love” chat forum.

The online posters trade technical tips on how to hide their identities from police throughout.

“He’s saying to use a particular chatting program that is known for its encryption.”

A joint Toronto Star/Scripps News investigation has detailed how post-Snowden privacy measures — including highly advanced encryption and added search-warrant requirements — have allowed child molesters, drug dealers and organized crime members to hide their crimes from police.

While stronger privacy measures have addressed concerns about authorities snooping into our lives, police say they have had unintended consequences: the likelihood that criminals can evade justice because evidence is unattainable.

It raises an unanswered question of the digital age: how do we balance protecting personal privacy with the ability of police to investigate crime?

On the one hand, police warn that crimes can now unfold before them as they stand by handcuffed by time-consuming judicial bureaucracy or unbreakable encryption. On the other, privacy advocates say we are all better protected from criminal threats posed by everything from tyrannical governments to sophisticated criminals.

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#CyberFLASH: Police bodycams hit Toronto streets Monday

2014-04-11-TPS3It is seen as the natural next step in an era when surveillance cameras peer down from buildings and citizens whip out cellphones to record police. On Monday, the Toronto Police Service will join the growing ranks of police forces adopting the latest law-enforcement technology when officers head out onto the streets, cameras rolling.

By the end of May, 100 Toronto police officers across the city will be wearing the increasingly popular policing tool, part of a nearly yearlong pilot project that was a recommendation of the Toronto Police’s use-of-force review that followed the 2013 police shooting of teenager Sammy Yatim.

The small recording device — attached high on the officers’ torso, near the lapel — has a big job: to increase public accountability and enhance trust, provide an unbiased account of public interactions, augment officer and public safety, protect police from unwarranted allegations of misconduct, and more.

“I feel like it’s a very exciting project; I think this has the potential to strengthen the policing profession, and I think it has the potential to strengthen our relations with the community,” said Staff Supt. Tom Russell at a news conference unveiling the cameras Friday.

Toronto police are following forces in Vancouver, Edmonton, Thunder Bay, Hamilton and London that have already launched pilot projects experimenting with the police tool. The Calgary Police Service, one of the earliest adopters in Canada, has moved beyond the experimental stage and expanded the number of body cameras used by their officers from 50 in 2013 to 1,100 today.

But the lightning-fast expansion of the technology across Canada has also prompted a chorus of concern from privacy groups worried about everything from the tool being used as surveillance to potential privacy breaches inside private residences.

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#CyberFLASH: Toronto police website shut down in string of cyber attacks across Canada

Screen Shot 2014-11-21 at 6.26.53 PM.jpgThe Toronto Police website has been restored after being taken offline Sunday by a cyber attack.

Toronto Police have confirmed that the attack took place over the weekend after a Twitter user threatened to hack it. The police website is the latest victim of a string of recent cyber attacks in Canada.

According to police, the site was the subject of a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack. A DDoS attack floods a website with access requests in an attempt to overload the server, causing the website to crash. But the attacks cannot infiltrate the sites themselves.

A Twitter user with the handle @AerithTOR claimed responsibility for the incident.

The user, whose Twitter account says is based in Turkey, claimed to be connected to international “hacktivist” syndicate Anonymous.

The user has also posted a message to an online forum threatening to hack the Conservative Party of Canada and the Parliament of Canada websites. The same user also claimed responsibility for crashing the websites of the Ottawa Police, the Canadian Parliament, and the Supreme Court with DDoS attacks over the weekend.

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#CyberFLASH: Toronto police computers hacked, U.S. Attorney claims

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Toronto police are denying the allegations in a U.S. court document that says names and addresses of more than 500 confidential police informants were hacked by an online group led by a former U.S. navy nuclear systems administrator.

The tiny American group, known as “Team Digi7al,” successfully attacked Toronto police computers between May 23 and June 1, 2012, according to a document filed this week by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in a Tulsa, Okla., court.

The allegations have not been proven in court.

“No informants were compromised,” Toronto police spokesman Kevin Masterman said Thursday. “They didn’t breach any internal systems.”

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