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Censorship The Internet IT

Teen Hacks $84 Million Porn Filter in 30 Minutes 479

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the worth-every-penny dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Tom Wood, a Year 10 Australian student has cracked the federal government's $84-million Internet porn filter in just 30 minutes. He can deactivate the filter in several clicks in such a way that the software's icon is not deleted which will make his parents believe the filter is still working. Tom says it is a matter of time before some computer-savvy kid puts the bypass on the Internet for others to use."
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Teen Hacks $84 Million Porn Filter in 30 Minutes

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  • b-b-b-but (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 25, 2007 @10:14AM (#20353801)
    They said it'd take at least 10 years because they used the same cryptography in Blu-Ray!!!
  • by Lt.Hawkins (17467) on Saturday August 25, 2007 @10:17AM (#20353813) Homepage
    "We got Skynet by the balls now" sums it up quite nicely.
  • by Sponge Bath (413667) on Saturday August 25, 2007 @10:18AM (#20353819)

    Keeping a teen from porn is like trying to keep Vervet monkeys out of the fields.
    Unless you are willing to shoot them, it is a lost cause.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by click2005 (921437)
      I'd be prepared to shoot teens for the sake of morality.
    • by mulhollandj (807571) on Saturday August 25, 2007 @10:47AM (#20354003)
      I strongly disagree. There are very effective ways to keep teens away from porn. They involve teaching a kid to respect themselves and others. It involves talking to your kids about these things. It involves teaching your kids correct principles when they are young and being a good parent. Is it possible to have your child never see porn? Probably not as there are many conspiring men who have their hearts set on addicting as many as they can but you can teach your kid never to go looking for it and what to do if he accidentally finds it.
      • Re:Motivated Youth (Score:5, Insightful)

        by gerbalblaste (882682) on Saturday August 25, 2007 @10:50AM (#20354031) Journal
        I do believe your confusing porn with something emotional and meaningfull, like say a relationship. Its a quick physical release, nothing more.
      • Re:Motivated Youth (Score:5, Insightful)

        by sqrt(2) (786011) on Saturday August 25, 2007 @11:00AM (#20354085) Journal
        You're starting all of your thoughts at the idea that teens shouldn't be seeing porn. And to the core of that idea is that teens seeing porn is bad for them. I don't believe there's harm with kids old enough to want to see porn, seeing porn. Don't take my words to mean we should be encouraging it, or that we should make it easy for them to do so, but 84 million to STOP it? That's a little off the deep end of the morality pool for me, that money could have been used in much better ways.

        Your teenage children are going to see porn. They're going to look for it. The "Not MY kids!" mentality isn't helping either. Yes, even your perfect Christian soldier children are going to actively seek out and consume pornography at least once in their lives. Whether, and to the extent that they're able to repress that is determined by how much of your morality actually stuck when you were brainwashing them to feel guilty about perfectly natural and healthy things.

        But hey, keep on rocking in the free world, I'm not a parent and it's not my job to tell anyone else how to be one. I think I do have a bit more common sense than a lot of the people who do end up raising kids though. Sometimes I think it's a shame I wont have any of my own.

        I'm sensing a karma burn here, but what good is having it if you don't use it :P
        • Re:Motivated Youth (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Rabbit Time! (807699) on Saturday August 25, 2007 @12:23PM (#20354659)
          Honestly, I don't think there's anything wrong with teens looking at porn. But there are a couple important things to keep in mind, IMO:

          a) being exposed to too much porn without any actual, real sexual relationships to compare it to totally screws up your view of what actual sexual relationships are like. This is a good reason to try to limit young teens' porn consumption until they're a little older and have a little more experience. I know some people with seriously f-ed up ideas of how sex should be, or what they expect their partner to be cool with doing...simply because they watch too much porn and don't talk to enough actual women. Fantasy, people. It's fantasy.

          b) Weird, violent or just kind of sick porn is getting a lot easier to find and a lot more mainstream. While I, personally, think its totally fine for teens to look at pictures of naked people having sex in moderation, I think that its probably not that healthy for them to be looking at crazy-ass fetish stuff before they have the necessary experience to put it in context. This is not to say that I'm particularly opposed to porn that caters to various fetishes as long as they're made safely with consenting and not coerced performers...just that you need to take the basic class before you move to the advanced level, you know?

          This, actually...is why I kind of support making it harder for teens to look at porn, even though I don't really have an issue with it. Because that way, you know they'll figure out some way to get it anyway, but it will hopefully limit their consumption. Its like how when I got older I found out neither of my parents gave a crap about me smoking pot, and knew that I was, but fear of getting caught kept me from smoking too much of it or doing anything really dumb as a teenager. Maybe that's sort of hypocritical viewpoint, but I think its probably fairly practical, since trying to explain to a teenage boy why he should voluntarily control his porn consumption is just not going to work.
          • Re:Motivated Youth (Score:5, Insightful)

            by NMerriam (15122) <NMerriam@artboy.org> on Saturday August 25, 2007 @03:59PM (#20356317) Homepage

            being exposed to too much porn without any actual, real sexual relationships to compare it to totally screws up your view of what actual sexual relationships are like. This is a good reason to try to limit young teens' porn consumption until they're a little older and have a little more experience. I know some people with seriously f-ed up ideas of how sex should be, or what they expect their partner to be cool with doing...simply because they watch too much porn and don't talk to enough actual women. Fantasy, people. It's fantasy.


            Except, I'd say in my experience and those I've know, that romantic movies do FAR more damage to young people's expectations of how real life relationships and sex work. The idea that sex is always some beautifully choreographed, slow-motion event ending in simultaneous orgasm makes LOTS of people think they're doing something "wrong" when they first have sex.

            And the vast majority of romance movies, if looked at objectively, basically encourage the notion of relentless pursuit through any means of trickery and illegal activity, no matter how many times the object of your affection says no. Because if you just stalk her enough, eventually she'll realize you're her perfect man! in terms of danger, I'd say that's a MUCH worse idea to put in kids' heads than the idea that maybe they'll meet a girl who likes to blow horses.

            Of course I'm not saying we should censor Meg Ryan films so that kids don't get an inappropriate view of romance, just that in real-life relationship terms it is pretty easy for most self-aware teens to understand what is unrealistic about porn.
            • Re:Motivated Youth (Score:5, Insightful)

              by name*censored* (884880) on Sunday August 26, 2007 @12:13AM (#20359411)
              MODERATORS MOD THIS GUY UP - if I had any meta mod points they'd all go to you.

              Up until about 12 years old, I was horribly confused as to how on earth millions of people ended up actually meeting, loving, and BEING LOVED IN RETURN by "Mr/Mrs Right". These (disney/romantic/etc) movies had misled me so much that I literally thought that there was only one person you would ever actually possibly fall in love with. I thought it ridiculously improbable that they would also fall in love with you in return (seemed to be more likely that their "one" person could be a different, third person, and the third persons' "one" could be a fourth, etc etc). As in porn, there was no realistic alternate view offered, but unlike porn, these movies were not presented as blatantly 'fantastic'.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by White Shade (57215)
            You pretty much said what I was going to say...

            The only situation in which porn is really a bad thing is when no one has ever taught the kid about how life really is, what sex actually is, and things of that nature. A kid whose first introduction to sex is by seeing porn either by themselves or being introduced to it by a friend, has a good chance of getting some sort of warped ideas; either insecurity about their own bodies (men and women both!) or by getting unrealistic and messed up assumptions about wha
        • Re:Motivated Youth (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Paracelcus (151056) on Saturday August 25, 2007 @01:35PM (#20355129) Journal
          It's more constructive to keep kids away from military recruiters than porn.

          Alcohol causes thousands of times the chaos and heartache than all drugs put together!

          Religion has been responsible for more evil (death, destruction, torture, hate, misery) than porn will/can if it continues for one million years.
      • by feepness (543479) on Saturday August 25, 2007 @11:59AM (#20354479) Homepage

        Probably not as there are many conspiring men who have their hearts set on addicting as many as they can but you can teach your kid never to go looking for it and what to do if he accidentally finds it.
        And if you can't teach your child not to go looking for it, at least teach them to be smart enough to never have to pay for it. I mean, sheesh, this is 2007 people.
      • by mutube (981006) on Saturday August 25, 2007 @01:32PM (#20355109) Homepage

        ...but you can teach your kid never to go looking for it and what to do if he accidentally finds it.

        Masturbate?
      • by UnrefinedLayman (185512) on Saturday August 25, 2007 @02:19PM (#20355415)
        Reminds me of Family Guy, when Meg learned some boys she liked were eunuchs:

        Boy 1: Hey, do you think that girl is hot?

        Boy 2: No!

        Boy 1: Me neither.

        (high five)

        Castrate your kids; save them from Internet porn.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by junglee_iitk (651040)

        teach your kid never to go looking for it and what to do if he accidentally finds it.

        You teach your kid to masturbate?

        I bow to thee!
      • Re:Motivated Youth (Score:4, Insightful)

        by NMerriam (15122) <NMerriam@artboy.org> on Saturday August 25, 2007 @03:37PM (#20356065) Homepage

        They involve teaching a kid to respect themselves and others. It involves talking to your kids about these things. It involves teaching your kids correct principles when they are young and being a good parent. Is it possible to have your child never see porn? Probably not as there are many conspiring men who have their hearts set on addicting as many as they can but you can teach your kid never to go looking for it and what to do if he accidentally finds it.


        Or you could, you know, teach your kids that there's nothing shameful about their own bodies or appreciating the beauty of other people's bodies. Then when they grow up they won't need twenty years of therapy and a failed marriage to get over all the emotional turmoil you planted in their minds before they were able to defend themselves.

        I'm quite happy to watch porn with my girlfriend, it enhances our sex life and is sometimes a good catalyst for communication about our desires and needs.
    • Information (panties) wants to be free, those clever teen velvet monkeys are everywhere. Mostly though I keep thinking of a line from the Movie Akira (the English version) "If humans think something is possible, eventually they find a way to do it, like it's instinctual." (I am not going to Google the exact wording but the upshot is the same. A motivated kid is impossible to stop.

      And it would have works except for those damn kids.
    • by arthurpaliden (939626) on Saturday August 25, 2007 @11:18AM (#20354187)

      The simplest and cheapest way to stop / reduce a kids ability / opportunity to access porn, an other such nefarious sites, on the Internet is to put the computer in a well traveled place in the home, say beside the kitchen and not up in there room where they cannot be supervised directly.



      Its called 'parenting' and it really works.



      Rebuttals featuring 'special cases' will be ignored.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Copid (137416)
        That's a very good solution. Alternately, if people insist on a technical solution, perhaps create one that makes people accountable for what they do rather than an easily defeated barrier. Maybe a password-protected cable modem that logs activity? Can't remove it or you lose access, can't just boot from a live CD. Clearing the password would be noticed when the parent logs into the web interface to check the log. Parents say, "Use your good judgment. I reserve the right to audit your history." Any
        • by CastrTroy (595695) on Saturday August 25, 2007 @12:01PM (#20354491) Homepage
          That's probably the best idea. Don't try to filter stuff, because you're either not filter everything, or filter too much. Just either put your computer in a room where you would be likely to walk by at any time, or put in some kind of proxy machine so that you can monitor what's going on. Even if they use HTTPs, you can see what IPs they are connecting to. This can help determine what they are looking at. Also, once they start looking for it, don't assume the internet is the only place they will find it. We all got a hold of it somehow when we were kids without the internet, and we all turned out pretty normal (by we, I mean just about everybody in society). For the most part, I'd just put the computer in a well travelled room. All this proxy/filter/nanny stuff is too much, and just shows a lot of distrust in your children, and probably won't stop them from seeing porn anyway.
      • A teen need not seek out porn when he just has to find girls that will put out; and those are more common as women gain more social equality and freedom.

        Some teens might be better with the porn than diseases or their own children. How about a study on the impact porn has on teen sex related problems?

        Physically adulthood is sooner than our cultural adulthood (the mental threshold IS cultural) and therein lies the bulk of the problem. The whole issue is a cultural one which as a result has little fact or logi
  • by Southpaw018 (793465) * on Saturday August 25, 2007 @10:18AM (#20353821) Journal
    ...was because all the other people were typing one-handed?
  • 84 million dollars? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gozar (39392) on Saturday August 25, 2007 @10:19AM (#20353827) Homepage
    Give me half that and I'll re-do their filter so some 15 year old can't get around it....

    Seriously, if you're going to spend that amount of money, you'd be farther ahead putting in a router that the government controls that can be continually updated. You also get cross-platform compatibility as a bonus!
    • by jonwil (467024) on Saturday August 25, 2007 @10:22AM (#20353839)
      Isn't that what the chinese do?
    • by sumdumass (711423) on Saturday August 25, 2007 @10:30AM (#20353899) Journal
      I agree.

      I don't know why this kid is even allowed on the Internet. I mean, in my day if we did something against our parents wishes, we got our asses beat with a switch. This kid goes against their wishes to the point they have to install extremely expensive software and then watch him brag about rendering it useless. If there was ever a situation that warranted an ass beating this would be it. If I was his dad, not only would the Internet be pulled from his access, he would get his ass beat and grounded for a couple months. And if he wanted to defy our wishes again, he would get more of the same with some forced labor around the house.
    • by ketamine-bp (586203) <calvin@nOspaM.k.eta.mine.nu> on Saturday August 25, 2007 @10:46AM (#20353995)
      hmm, that smells like the great (fire)wall.
    • by couchslug (175151)
      "Give me half that and I'll re-do their filter so some 15 year old can't get around it...."

      Or at least, 15 year olds that can't figure out how to clear a CMOS (if required) then boot a live CD.
    • by statusbar (314703) <jeffk@statusbar.com> on Saturday August 25, 2007 @12:23PM (#20354661) Homepage Journal
      You fail 21st century business.

      I used to think this way when I heard about the Canadian Government budgeting $120 million dollars on a database and website for their Gun Registry [wikipedia.org], which ended up costing almost $2 billion. At the point where they spent half a billion dollars on the IT infrastructure alone it still did not work. Phones were not answered, web sites crashed, FAX lines busy.

      I then thought "Oh hey I could have built them a distributed database and front end that would work for only about $20 million!"

      But that is not what they wanted... They wanted to spend more and they didn't care if it worked. It's all about the kickbacks.

      --jeffk++

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by rk (6314)
        There needs to be a "+1 Painfully True" mod for posts such as these. :-/
  • Tom Wood (Score:5, Funny)

    by MyLongNickName (822545) on Saturday August 25, 2007 @10:20AM (#20353833) Journal
    Tom Wood sounds more like a porn star's screen name.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 25, 2007 @10:21AM (#20353837)
    Could it be that throwing tax dollars at moral problems when not everyone agrees on whether or not said act is immoral is not the best idea?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by feepness (543479)

      Could it be that throwing tax dollars at moral problems when not everyone agrees on whether or not said act is immoral is not the best idea?
      Only when it's someone else's morals. When it's my morals... well, then it's just common sense to spend every last dime on them.
  • Perception (Score:2, Interesting)

    by biocute (936687)
    icon is not deleted which will make his parents believe the filter is still working

    Isn't this what's important to parents? They only need to feel good, other technical details are useless.
  • by icepick72 (834363) on Saturday August 25, 2007 @10:30AM (#20353895)
    So now we find out the government has been secretly using teen workers as hackers. Not only is "teen workers" an irony but this could be constituted slave labor. They are faced with the proposed fear of work and so crack the filter as fast as they can. Oh wait ... it's a porn filter ... okay added incentive I admit.
  • Fucking morons. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by scenestar (828656) on Saturday August 25, 2007 @10:31AM (#20353903) Homepage Journal
    When are people going to accept that teenagers are sexual beings too.

    According to wikipedia he should be around the age of 15/16
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Education_in_Australi a#Secondary [wikipedia.org]

    When I was 15 I remember becoming sexually active with girls and having "needs"

    No filter can stop teens from getting off, no matter how many millions of dollars you throw at it.
    • by c (8461) <beauregardcp@gmail.com> on Saturday August 25, 2007 @11:18AM (#20354199)
      > When are people going to accept that teenagers are sexual beings too.

      Seeing as how these same lunatics haven't accepted that adults are sexual beings, I'm thinking "never".

      c.
  • by ILuvRamen (1026668) on Saturday August 25, 2007 @10:31AM (#20353905)
    Any filter with a password means you can sneak the "frklg" keylogger onto your own computer, go to any site that the filter filters that it shouldn't and have the owner of the filter disable it temporarily by putting in the password. Almost all filters have this weakness. Of course some keep a log of times it was disabled and stuff but who reads that lol. I'm thinking this one has a disable password on it too and most kids know about keyloggers
  • Well... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Kjella (173770) on Saturday August 25, 2007 @10:38AM (#20353951) Homepage
    ...if you're interested, skilled enough to find the crack and willing to risk it, chances are pretty slim you'd stop them anyway. Porn filters are only good for stopping those not really motivated.
    • by biocute (936687)
      Does unmotivated teens exist?

      If teenagers can unsnap a bra in 5 seconds, why are we surprised that it took 30 minutes to bypass a filter?
  • by stoicfaux (466273) on Saturday August 25, 2007 @10:41AM (#20353965)
    The header links to a ad-laden, news light article. Here's a link to a better story with a tad more facts: http://www.news.com.au/story/0,23599,22304224-421, 00.html [news.com.au]
  • by nurb432 (527695) on Saturday August 25, 2007 @10:43AM (#20353975) Homepage Journal
    Then it can be broken.

    The only way that could even have a prayer to work is at the ISP level.
  • by Kaptain Kruton (854928) on Saturday August 25, 2007 @10:45AM (#20353983)
    http://www.news.com.au/story/0,23599,22304224-421, 00.html [news.com.au]
    The summary: A 16 year old student wanted porn. He got it in 30 minutes. The government tried to fix the filter. The 16 year old student wanted more porn. He got more in 40 minutes. 16 year old says the porn filter is waste of money.
    • by Xemu (50595) on Saturday August 25, 2007 @10:51AM (#20354035) Homepage
      The summary: A 16 year old student wanted porn. He got it in 30 minutes. The government tried to fix the filter. The 16 year old student wanted more porn. He got more in 40 minutes. 16 year old says the porn filter is waste of money.

      I have a sneaking suspicion that the government programmers are slashdot readers and are secretly supporting the teen's cause for free pr0n, so they aren't really making the filter hard to break. Just enough of a mental challenge for a horny 16 year old. (This may be why there are so few girl programmers. They don't have the right motivation.)

  • According to the article's picture, John Conner hacked the filter? I wonder if his mother, Sarah, knows about this. [grin]
  • by Wilson_6500 (896824) on Saturday August 25, 2007 @11:26AM (#20354257)
    I've never heard of a more appropriately-named government project. $84M for a continually-updated filter that a kid (sounds like a smart kid, but a kid nonetheless) can break in less than an hour.

    Why can't America's politicians up and admit to their schemes, too? Imagine it: the PATRIOT Scheme, the Communications Decency Scheme, and so on.
  • by ZiakII (829432) on Saturday August 25, 2007 @11:31AM (#20354297)
    I'm fairly sure that if they took all the porn off the Internet, there'd only be 1 website left, and it would be called Bring Back The Porn.
  • by Organic Brain Damage (863655) on Saturday August 25, 2007 @11:33AM (#20354309)
    The problem of teen access to internet porn is self-limiting. The boy will eventually go blind and then what's he gonna do? Digitized braille porn?
  • No Surprise (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gweihir (88907) on Saturday August 25, 2007 @11:42AM (#20354369)
    These filters do not work for several reasons. One is that porn is hard to recognize for software. There is no AI that can do it. A second reason is that internet filtering only works at a chocke-point, for example the giant chinese firewall, with its attached civil servants that issue the warrants. (We had a talk about this thing here by some chinese guy. Of course the warrant-writers were omitted, but it was obvious they were there.) You can tunnel through firewalls, for example with SSL or SSH.

    For years security experts generally predict these efforts a time to be broken of at most a few weeks. The basic problem is that the approach is wrong and that it is both pushed by incompetent politicians (incompetence of the 2nd order: they do not know they are incompetent.) and companies that promies effective solutions, but in truth only want to earn a lot of money and know their solutions will not really work.
  • by Stanislav_J (947290) on Saturday August 25, 2007 @11:49AM (#20354407)

    (....although some would say that's 2 minds more than I actually possess. But I digress...)

    I applaud any successful circumvention of anything that restricts information to those who want to see it. But at the same time I'm starting to think that we shouldn't be shouting from the housetops about it -- this kind of publicly announced hack is just fuel for the fire to the folks that would ban all even remotely sexually material from the Net. It just gives them the chance to say "well, see, filters don't work worth a damn -- therefore, we must make it illegal for any explicit material to be on the Internet." Can't you hackers just keep your little mouths shut, let the moralists THINK that the filters work (while you quietly and discreetly circulate the hack), and let their ignorance be our bliss?

  • Only 1 sin here (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dakuma (857226) on Saturday August 25, 2007 @12:35PM (#20354741) Homepage
    The only sin committed here, is the Governement spending $84 million on a Porn Filter! How many other programs would that kind of money funded, oh wait we are talking about the Government are we not. Think of the food that could buy to feed people in need, womens shelters, life saving operations.. and on and on. Despite that, they spend it on a Porn Filter. Even if they succeeded, there are still magazines, movies etc.. and if in some distant future they manage to erase all traces of Porn the world over... that still leaves the imagination..
  • by nEoN nOoDlE (27594) on Saturday August 25, 2007 @04:00PM (#20356323) Homepage
    Seriously, people. Everyone here thinks that "thinking of the children" is a crappy excuse to take away our rights, but in this case it really is about the children! When I was 14 and wanted to masturbate, I had to actually close my eyes and imagine Sarah from Bio class in a short skirt with no panties on bending over as she drops her pen. Now it's just too easy for kids. They could get that image of Sarah (and MUCH more... oh so much more) just by spending a few minutes clicking on the computer. It's seriously ruining our children's imaginations. Without being able to close your eyes and envision naked girls with pinpoint accuracy, how will we expect our kids to grow up and solve problems in imaginative ways? So please, think of the children and make them work to get off.
  • by CrankyOldBastard (945508) on Saturday August 25, 2007 @05:55PM (#20357245)
    A few years back I found my eldest son (12 at the time( was using the small dark hours to view various kinds of porn. Some was 'normal' but there were many sites that were et the more extreme end of human sexuality.

    I set up a transparent proxy with Dansguardian. Do I think it's impossible for my kids to find porn (or other content I'm uncomfortable for my kids to see) ? No. But I do know that it's unlikely for them to stumble across it accidentally. If they set to work to find and view porn, they'll find a way around the filters.

    I also took a few of the images C. had looked at, and by zooming and playing with palettes showed him the scars of self-mutilation, the scars from slashed wrists, the track marks, the rotting teeth and the sores. He now knows that many of the girls have pretty nasty problems, as well as nasty habits. He also can see that many of the girls are being exploited, and that porn denigrates humans, unlike art which glorifies the body or casts these girls onto the canvas of our own life to challenge our our nice safe prejudices.

    I know if my kids view porn. They know that I know. I also know that they have at least a glimmering of some of the moral and social issues involved. Hopefully I've also provided some guidance about what constitutes 'normal' and what the difference is between sex as an act of love and sex as exploitation for purposes of ego stroking.

    So my approach as a parent is (1) make it less likely that they'll find porn by accident (2) make sure they're game to talk to me about it (3) make sure they see woman as more than a set of orifices in a warm bundle (4) make sure they know that their dreams and urges are normal and (5) that they are the only ones who can decide whether they treat Human Beings with respect as Divine Creatures deserve.

    I figure that if (however unlikely) I can make some headway on all these points, I'll have got some wins, and their chances of happy future relationships are (slightly?) improved. I think thats my job - the rest is up to them.

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