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DNS plays role in Craigslist killer case

DNSstuff claims its tools helped Boston law enforcement officials nab alleged Craigslist killer

By , Network World
April 23, 2009 03:58 PM ET

Network World - Network technology may have played a critical role in law enforcement officials catching the alleged Craigslist killer before he was able to strike again.

According to DNSstuff, the vendor's DNS tools were used as part of the ongoing investigation to track and then capture alledged Craigslist killer Philip Markoff. Boston and Massachusetts law enforcement officials would not comment on the ongoing investigation, but DNSstuff CEO Rich Person says his company's tools helped track Markoff through e-mail and network technology via Craigslist.

"We have it on good authority that law enforcement officials used our tools for checking e-mail and network connectivity and tracking IP addresses, but they are unable to comment due to the ongoing nature of the case," Person says. "Interpol, the [Federal Bureau of Investigation] and the National Center for Exploited & Missing Children have also used our tools in the past for criminal investigations, specifically one in New Hampshire involving a threat against Hillary Clinton."

Markoff, 23, a Boston University medical student, was charged with robbing one woman he found via erotic services advertised through Craigslist and murdering another, Julissa Brisman, 26, of New York. Markoff was charged April 22 with the April 14 fatal shooting of Brisman and is being held without bail as more details emerge surrounding the case. He was also changed with the armed robbery and kidnapping of a prostitute who was tied up April 10 at Boston's Westin Copley.

As investigators build their case, DNSstuff's CTO Paul Parisi earlier this week recorded a videotaped interview with WCVB TV/DT Boston Channel 5 detailing exactly how DNS technology can lead law enforcement officials practically to the doorstep of criminals by tracking the IP address of devices used to a specific location.

The company is no stranger to crime investigations, Person says, as it was a key tool criminal consultants pointed to for filming the movie "Untraceable." The company is now working with law enforcement agencies as well as MIT to offer workshops that would train investigators – not just the high-tech experts – on how to use DNS and other network technologies to catch criminals.

"I think we are just scratching the surface in terms of how IP data can play a role in forensics and analysis," Person says. "DNS is kind of a black art among high-tech gurus, but more and more we are evolving our technology to help expose how DNS can be used to track criminals or protect the privacy of citizens."

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