Electronic Footprints

Electronic Footprints in the Sand

A University press release published today (26th March), describes how those at risk from domestic violence can now seek help online without leaving an electronic trail behind.  The ‘cleaner app’ technology, which has been developed by the School of Computing Science, was discussed on BBC Radio Newcastle with Mr Martin Emms, a PhD student at the School.

The following is a short extract from the press release:

“The rapid growth of internet-based support networks, either through official channels or via social networks, means getting the right help and information wherever we need it, whenever we need it, has never been easier.

But for certain vulnerable groups such as those suffering from domestic violence, the risk of seeking help can outweigh the benefits as it leaves a digital trail which can alert their abuser to the fact they are trying to get help.

Now a team at Newcastle University has developed a suite of technologies that can protect people in abusive relationships from being tracked online, including an app which selectively wipes clean their browsing history and self-destruct QR codes which are embedded on innocent-looking postcards and flyers. Following the initial pilot studies, trials of the new technologies will begin next month.

“Any online access leaves behind an electronic trail which can easily be followed to see what we’ve been up to,” explains Dr Budi Arief, from the Centre for Cybercrime and Computer Security (CCCS) at Newcastle University.

“Another important consideration in the case of domestic violence is that in many cases, victims do not know where to get help from,” adds Mr Martin Emms, a PhD student at the School of Computing Science. As a solution, the Newcastle University team has developed single use URL codes that can be distributed to victims.”


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