Predators mask their locations by connecting to virtual private networks, and hide their messages by using encryption techniques, often making their hard drives impenetrable. “People who traffic in child exploitation materials are on the cutting edge of technology,” said Susan Hennessey, a former lawyer at the National Security Agency who researches cybersecurity at the Brookings Institution. Law enforcement agencies dedicated to the issue have been chronically underfunded, even as the number of reported cases skyrockets. This year, the Department of Homeland Security diverted nearly $6 million from its cybercrimes units, which encompasses child exploitation, to immigration enforcement—cutting 40 percent of the units’ discretionary budget.
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