Bitcoin being used to trade child abuse material, IWF warns

Child abuse material is being stored, shared and sold by criminals hacking innocent sites on the open web, who are then using the cryptocurrency bitcoin to sell the material.Research by the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) has discovered the emergent use of the bitcoin digital currency as a payment mechanism, with criminals hiding images and video on hacked websites that are unknowingly hosting the illegal content. see:Bitcoins accepted for child sexual abuse imagery [news release]
UK online businesses should beef-up their security to prevent hackers using their websites to direct online users to child sexual abuse images and videos.Research released by the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) identifies how legitimate online businesses are being hacked to lead online users to commercial child sexual abuse imagery.The research also demonstrates that, for the first time, Bitcoin is being accepted for the purchase of child sexual abuse images and videos.The trend was identified in January (2014). Spam emails were used to distribute links (web addresses) to internet uses. These links led to a hacked website (a legitimate business) and would further re-direct the user to commercial child sexual abuse images on a second hacked website.This commercial child sexual abuse material is unique in that it purports to accept payment only in bitcoins.Sarah Smith, IWF Technical Researcher who authored the research paper, said: “These websites are legitimate businesses, sometimes UK business. We believe they are being targeted due to inadequate security on their websites.”The website administrators of these businesses often won’t be aware they’ve been hacked. I would advise them to look closely at their website security to prevent their websites being targeted to host re-director links or criminal content.”We identify the payment methods used by commercial child sexual abuse distributers in order to work with third parties who can disrupt the distribution of these criminal images.”This is the first time we’ve seen bitcoins being accepted for child sexual abuse images and videos.”The research paper can be downloaded on the IWF website at

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