Device claims to detect pornography on computers; does it work? - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Device claims to detect pornography on computers; does it work?

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Parents wanting to make sure their children aren't using the Internet to access pornography my be interested in a new device that promises to scan computers for racy images.

The detector stick is the size of a flash drive and plugs into the USB port on your computer. There is nothing to install, it just runs from the device and scans your computer, similar to anti-virus software.

It is called the Porn Detection Stick. We wanted to know if it worked and how effective it was. So we put it to the test. 

Derrell Lewis owns a computer shop in Lubbock. He's letting us test the device on an abandoned computer. He's never seen the contents of the hard drive. Lewis says employers bring their computers to him to figure out why they're running slow. Many times pornography containing a virus is to blame. "In my experience, I've found a lot of infected machines with a lot of pornographic images," Lewis continued. "Personally I already know how to search a hard drive, but that can take a period of hours."

With one click from Lewis, the smut search begins. "If it does what it says it will that would be of considerable interest to parents," he said. Product manufacturers claim it scans a 500 gigabyte hard drive in an hour and a half. The computer we're testing is 20% the size. "We've not been able to get the speed they promised," Lewis said.

Finally the moment we've been waiting for. The results are negative for pornographic images. "All they had in common was a lot of flesh tones and facial portraits. A couple sports photographs where they were showing a lot of leg; nothing really incriminating," said Lewis.

Andi Powers is the director of the Wolfforth Library. She says between 30 and 40 people access their computers daily.  "Every time we have caught someone it's been a staff person that's seen something questionable," she said.

She's allowed us to test the device on one of the library computers. "It will be interesting for us to see what we end up with. We don't filter our internet access so we have some policies on what you can and can't be looking at."

The library has a program that deletes files after the computer is restarted. Rogers starts the scan. This time, it takes about an hour.

It scanned more than 3700 images and 10 are suspected for pornography. When we looked at the results folder, the images were also not explicit. Powers pointed to the pictures, "These are toys, that's the same image, and I can't tell what those are but it doesn't look like anything human or fleshy to me."

Another clean computer.

We haven't found anything on the first two computers we tested so the forensics division of the Lubbock Police Department is allowing us access to a computer infected with images. Now we can really put the detection stick to the test.

Detective Joe Moudy explained how he attempted to clean up the files. "What I did was pretty much replicate what a kid would do browsing. What they clean it up with and everything," he said.

He put one pornographic image into the recycle bin. He also says by his count, the computer should have at least 50 pornographic images. After the scan, there were only 3 detected. "It did pull up 3 pictures of sexual explicit content but it missed over what I'd say about 90% of what was on this computer," Moudy said.

The porn stick didn't find any of the pictures from the deleted image history like promised on their web site. It also completely missed the picture in the recycle bin. Experts agree the best defense is keeping a close eye on your children. Pornography comes with a price.

"It costs you your valuable data, it can crash your computer, and it can lead to identity theft," said Lewis.

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