Internet Watch Foundation Awareness Day

Graham Cluley
Graham Cluley
@[email protected]

Internet Watch Foundation Awareness Day

The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) is the UK’s internet “hotline” for the public to report online child sexual abuse content they find on the internet, hosted anywhere in the world. The public can also go through the IWF to report criminally obscene material and content which incites racial hatred if it’s hosted in the UK.

Today is Internet Watch Foundation Awareness Day, and Sophos is pleased to support the initiative to make more people aware of the extremely valuable service that the IWF provides. We support the IWF’s aims and work with them to protect internet users from inadvertent exposure to child sexual abuse images.

New research published by the IWF today indicates that over three quarters (77%) of UK adult internet users who have stumbled across images of children being sexually abused are unsure about how to report them. That’s the reason why awareness campaigns like today are so important – everyone in Britain should know about the IWF (or the equivalent agency in their country) so that correct action can be taken when illegal content is found.

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There’s no doubt about the importance of combatting online child sexual abuse images. Another statistic from the IWF’s research shows that 71% ranked the availability of such child abuse material was their top concern about the internet.

As Pob in our virus lab describes today in a blog post, some of the images we see included in spam or the content at the end of weblinks which are carried by spam can be extremely disturbing, and where appropriate we report these to the IWF.

But other people should know how to report these things too. And now you do:

Founded by the internet industry in 1996, the IWF works in partnership with the police, government, the wider online sector and the public to combat the availability of potentially illegal online content. As a result, less than 1% of online child sexual abuse content has apparently been hosted in the UK since 2003, down from 18% in 1997.

Graham Cluley is an award-winning keynote speaker who has given presentations around the world about cybersecurity, hackers, and online privacy. A veteran of the computer security industry since the early 1990s, he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows, makes regular media appearances, and is the co-host of the popular "Smashing Security" podcast. Follow him on Twitter, Mastodon, Threads, Bluesky, or drop him an email.

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