Brian Levine is the founding director of the UMass Amherst Cybersecurity Institute. His research and teaching focus on security on the Internet and in mobile systems, including child rescue, privacy, blockchains, cellular networks and peer-to-peer networking. His work on thwarting child exploitation is funded in part by the Department of Justice and often in collaboration with Internet Crimes Against Children Task Forces.
His research group has developed the App Danger Project to help parents asses the safety of social networking apps
University of California, Santa Cruz: Ph.D., Computer Engineering
University of California, Santa Cruz: M.S., Computer Engineering
University at Albany: B.S., Applied Mathematics and Computer Science
Select Media Coverage (5)
Amid Sextortion’s Rise, Computer Scientists Tap A.I. to Identify Risky Apps
The New York Times online
Almost weekly, Brian Levine, a computer scientist at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, is asked the same question by his 14-year-old daughter: Can I download this app? Mr. Levine responds by scanning hundreds of customer reviews in the App Store for allegations of harassment or child sexual abuse. The manual and arbitrary process has made him wonder why more resources aren’t available to help parents make quick decisions about apps.
Instagram 'connects perpetrators' easier than other platforms,regulation needed: Researcher
BNN Bloomberg online
Brian Levine, director of cybersecurity at University of Massachusetts, joins BNN Bloomberg to discuss his research that finds more illegal child content on Instagram than other platforms, how Meta is attempting to combat illicit content, and the changes in algorithm design and regulation that are required.
Damning probes find Instagram is key link connecting pedophile rings
Ars Technica online
But these tactics do not appear to be doing enough to combat the problem, researchers said. UMass Rescue Lab director Brian Levine told Ars that it took his team minutes to uncover pedophile rings operating on Instagram after identifying "simple tags" used to help connect buyers and sellers. The Wall Street Journal reported that the hashtags researchers identified could be obvious, like "pedowhore," or rely on code words, like "cheese pizza," which shares initials to allude to child pornography.
Instagram Connects Vast Pedophile Network
The Wall Street Journal online
“Instagram is an on-ramp to places on the internet where there’s more explicit child sexual abuse,” said Brian Levine, director of the UMass Rescue Lab, which researches online child victimization and builds forensic tools to combat it. Levine is an author of a 2022 report for the National Institute of Justice, the Justice Department’s research arm, on internet child exploitation.
A teen girl sexually exploited on Snapchat takes on American tech
The Washington Post online
Brian Levine, a professor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst who studies children’s online safety and digital forensics and is not involved in the litigation, said the legal challenge adds to the evidence that the country’s lack of tech regulation has left young people at risk. “How is it that all of the carmakers and all of the other industries have regulations for child safety, and one of the most important industries in America has next to nothing?” Levine said.
Select Publications (1)
Report to Congress: Increasing the Efficacy of Investigations of Online Child Sexual ExploitationUniversity of Massachusetts Amherst
2022 Nothing in history has transformed the character and practice of child sexual exploitation more than the internet. Individuals who commit child sex crimes use internet services, social networks, and mobile apps to meet minors and each other in ways they cannot in person and to groom victims by normalizing abusive sexual acts. Many of those who commit child sex crimes deceive, coerce, and sexually extort child victims with threats that too often are realized. Individuals who commit child sex crimes use the internet to arrange in-person meetings for hands-on abuse, and they use it to remotely coerce young children to selfproduce sexual and sadistic acts. Whether the abuse is hands-on or remote, the images or videos in which an individual captures their rape of a child are referred to as child sexual abuse materials (CSAM).