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Last month dozens of images of British children were discovered on a Russian website used by paedophiles. Until they were tipped off, the parents of the children involved had been completely unaware that images of children as young as three had been taken from their own social media sites to be displayed inappropriately. As with so many such instances on the Internet, there followed a number of stable-door shutting exercises accompanied by statements of firm resolve that such a thing will never happen again.
In reality, this is an almost impossible claim to make. Because although a knowledgeable minority may keep their attention firmly fixed on making sure that the same type of incident is not repeated, the very nature of the Internet means that while they are doing so, somebody somewhere will have simply thought of another thing to do or another way in which to do it.
The Internet evolves at the pace of the fastest mind. It only takes one person to think creatively for shallow defences to be overrun. In safeguarding terms this means that as soon as one hole has been plugged, another one develops and that what might be have been right today won’t be right tomorrow.
This is a scary prospect in anyone’s Internet but particularly frightening when it comes to safeguarding children. In some cases, they might be victim to a deliberate, sophisticated and malicious cyber attack; but as often as not, they are more likely to be victims of cyber bullying or fraud. No one knows when and from where the next attack will come and that is why any Internet Security system must have an inbuilt capacity to evolve.
In the trade this is known as agility. And for Internet Security to be truly agile, it must have an inbuilt capacity to accumulate and interpret its own intelligence. That is why when SRM produced its Virtual E-Safety Officer portal, we developed its capacity to gather market intelligence from all participating schools, thus giving them and us the opportunity to spot developing trends.