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Products track hidden information on electronic devices

By Scott Haws | Posted - Nov. 17, 2010 at 10:17 p.m.



This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.

SALT LAKE CITY -- Every time you visit a website, send an e-mail, or text, you're leaving a digital footprint. A couple of products can recover hidden information you may not even know is there.

What it means is when you delete something, it's not really gone; you just can't see it.

One product getting a lot of attention is the Porn Stick. It's a simple thumb drive that will scan your entire computer and find any current or deleted pornographic images. Special Agent Rusty Isakson with the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force depends on the latest technology to help catch child porn predators.

"The digital world really does give you a format where you can track and trace," he said.

John and Laurel Porter rely on surprise inspections to keep track of their three children's laptops and cell phones.

Products track hidden information on electronic devices

"We just walk downstairs and say give me your phone. And with them, we'll look at their history, we take their iPod and see what they're listening to," John said.

"Just like I tell them now, I'm going to monitor your e-mails, I can monitor your texts. That's kind of the rule," Laurel said.

The rules are changing, though, because parents like the Porters now have access to essentially the same technology that police have had, thanks to companies like Utah-based Paraben, which specializes in computer forensic software.

Amber Schroader, CEO of Paraben Corp., said, "A lot of people don't realize how dirty surfing the Internet can be for your machine."

The Porn Stick is one of Paraben's hottest new products.

"It's designed to actually go out and find illicit images and content on your computer and allow you to go through them and remove them," Schroader said.

Products track hidden information on electronic devices

It's not just parents who are buying the Porn Stick. In fact, Paraben's biggest customer is spouses, in particular women.

"I wish 100 percent of the people out there were secure in their relationships, but the reality is they're not, and this is our No. 1 customer," Schroader said.

Licensed therapist Scott Peterson counsels men and women dealing with pornography issues and says secretly using the Porn Stick to spy on someone can have serious consequences.

"It's gotta be done out in the open," he said. "If you don't do it out in the open, it just adds to the further sense of secrecy that surrounds pornography, and a pornography addiction thrives on secrecy. The wife needs to let the husband know that that's what's she's doing. In essence, give him the opportunity, or kids if they have teenagers, or so on, to say, this is a problem for me."

It doesn't stop with the Porn Stick. There's the Chat Stick to recover instant messaging on a computer, as well as the iRecovery Stick, which can track down texts, call history and web activity on an iPhone.

Whatever the device, Peterson hopes it will get more parents to "wake up."

"Assume that it has happened, because in all likelihood, it has," Peterson said.

John Porter said, "I think it really defines what a parent is, by how much you're willing to get involved in your child's life and say, ‘This is not OK, this is OK, I need to know this.'"

Thursday morning at 6:15, KSL Newsradio's Jay McFarland will join KSL in studio. We'll scan his laptop live on the air and show you how it works. Also, Jay is a former private detective and we'll find out how this technology is changing that industry.

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Scott Haws

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