This week, the former acting director of cybersecurity for the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) was sentenced to 25 years in prison for accessing and soliciting child pornography.
Timothy DeFoggi, who began working for HHS in 2008, was originally convicted back in August last year. The court in Nebraska had previously denied his motion for a new trial.
In total, DeFoggi is the sixth person to be convicted in relation to the Tor-enabled website called PedoBook. The administrator of the site, Aaron McGrath, was sentenced to 20 years in prison. McGrath was apprehended by federal investigators after he failed to use an administrator password.
Although networks such as Tor are designed to protect the user’s anonymity, it is likely that DeFoggi was identified using a specially created form of malware capable of recognising the computer’s IP address and other identifiers.
Deborah Gilg, the United States Attorney for the District of Nebraska, said that the arrest of DeFoggi and others like him should serve as a deterrent to those using anonymity networks.
"Today's sentence and the others imposed earlier demonstrate that those who exploit children will be aggressively pursued and prosecuted to the full extent of the law," she said in a statement on Monday. "Those who think they are acting anonymously on the Internet will be found and held accountable."
Gilg's statement confirmed that prosecutors found that DeFoggi “had accessed child pornography, solicited child pornography from other members, and exchanged private messages with other members where he expressed an interest in the violent rape and murder of children.”
According to a report last year by the National Crime Agency, the number of paedophiles using the dark net to obtain illegal images is on the increase, with some sites receiving up to 500 page views a second.