Commercial disguised websites


What are commercial disguised websites?

Since 2011, we have been monitoring commercial child sexual abuse websites which display child sexual abuse imagery only when accessed by a ‘digital pathway’ of links from other websites. When the pathway is not followed, or the website is accessed directly through a browser, legal (usually pornographic) content is displayed. This means it is more difficult to locate and investigate the criminal imagery.

  • In 2023, we uncovered 5,781 websites using a “digital pathway” to hide child sexual abuse imagery.
  • Of the 8,076 commercial websites overall, 39% (3,128) were also using a digital pathway. This is up from 11% in 2022.

Disguised websites have also continued to exploit Top-Level Domain hopping to avoid detection and remain online.

What can we do about this?

We actively monitor the techniques used by these websites in order to uncover the criminal material in order to get it removed. We also share intelligence with our partners to enable them to do the same.