Internet "Forensic Tool" Can Trace Past Web Activity

A new Internet "forensic tool" has been introduced that aims to help educators, police and other law enforcement officials trace the past World Wide Web activity of computer users.

Net Threat Analyzer, from Gresham, Ore.-based New Technology Inc., can be used to identify past Internet browsing and e-mail activity done through specific computers. The software analyzes a computer's disk drives and other storage area that are generally unknown to or beyond the reach of most general computer users.

"Kids can figure out ways so that their parents don't find anything on their machine, but Net Threat Analyzer goes back in after the fact where things are easier to detect," said Scott Stevens, program manager at NTI.

Stevens said the company will make its Net Threat Analyzer available July 6 free of charge to computer crime specialists, school officials and police.

The program is booted from a floppy disk and uses filtering tools to collect data on users' basic browsing and e-mail history. "It flags possible threats like anything dealing with drugs, bombs, country codes or pornography," Stevens said. "Web sites are changing so often that it's difficult to keep up with which ones are porn sites or drug sites."

Stevens used the example of www.whitehouse.gov, which is the official White House Web site, and www.whitehouse.com, which is a pornography site. "If Junior's been to whitehouse.com 300 to 500 times, it will make it through most 'Net nanny' software," he said. "But that will cause a red flag with our product."

Stevens said the software was designed to help prevent situations like the recent tragedies at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., and the Thurston High School in Springfield, Ore., where weapons were made by teen-agers who had downloaded the instructions from the Internet.

The company, which specializes in computer forensics tools and training, has posted order forms for its software on its Web site at www.forensics-intl.com. The tool is not available to the public, but a special version can be purchased by Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, military agencies and consultants who have a legitimate need for the software.

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