Poulsen, the former news editor for SecurityFocus and now editor at Wired News, correlated data mined from the U.S. National Sex Offender Registry with over a million profiles on MySpace.com. While his automated Perl script resulted in a large number of false positives, he was still able to find 744 confirmed sex offenders with MySpace profiles after examining just one third of the data.
The search ultimately resulted in one arrest, of repeat sex offender Andrew Lubrano in New York. Like many sex offenders, Lubrano registered his MySpace account using his real name.
"My search left me less convinced that targeting past offenders would be an effective way for MySpace to find current or future predators." Poulsen wrote on Wired News. "By its nature, a search like mine is only going to produce people who use their real names and addresses, and who are perhaps the least likely of the offenders to be up to no good."
But the reformed hacker's innovated data correlation and search technique has already gained the attention of both law enforcement and MySpace's chief security officer, Hermanshu Nigam. The MySpace CSO stated that the company would like to be able to ban sex offenders from its site, but is waiting for new laws that make it easier to do so.
MySpace is increasingly being targeted by sexual predators, as the popular social networking site attracts at large number of children and teenagers. Poulsen's Perl script, about 1,000 lines in length, is expected to be released to the open source community later this week.
Posted by: Kelly Martin