Authorities use hackers to find missing persons

Australia Holding World’s First Hackathon to Find Missing Persons.
Authorities use hackers to find missing persons

Australia Holds World’s First Hackathon to Find Missing Persons.

Whether hacking can be ethical or not, it is still a debatable point but law enforcement agencies in Australia have come up with an interesting new way to utilize hackers’ skills for societal welfare.

Reportedly, Australian Federal Police took 354 hackers and investigators from all over the country to use their skills for finding new clues in missing person cases. The hackers participated in the National Missing Persons Hackathon to find new leads and help the police.

The Hackathon which took place on Friday, October 11th in Canberra was the world’s first-ever which aimed at finding missing persons.

Linda Cavanagh, Manager of the Canberra Cyber Security Innovation Node stated that they are trying to take searching for missing persons to the next level:

This is the first large-scale, crowdsourced open-source intelligence gathering of its kind in Australia for missing persons, and a first for a country to participate simultaneously in this manner,” said Linda.

The Hackathon was part of a rather extensive Australian Cyber Week 2019. The event itself was a unique approach to use hacking skills for solving crucial cases espicially because participants used open-source intelligence to find some breakthrough in 12 missing person cases registered at the National Missing Persons Coordination Centre. 

One of the cases is the highly publicized disappearance of a Belgian teen Théo Hayez who went missing in May while holidaying in the Byron Bay, NSW. The 18-year old didn’t return to his hostel and the entire coastal town went into a frenzy. Despite large-scale search operations involving the police, homicide squad detectives, SES, surf lifesavers and local community volunteers, the whereabouts of Hayez couldn’t be traced. 

The Hackathon was an attempt to find new clues or information in Hayez’s and similar other long-term missing persons cases. The hackers will be gathering at 10 different locations in Australia namely Adelaide, Brisbane, Darwin, Gold Coast, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney, and Sunshine Coast.

The main event of the Hackathon was held in Canberra from where it was live-streamed to the participants. The participants were referred to as ethical hackers and it will be a six-hour-long Hackathon.

According to Karen Andrews, Minister for Industry, Science, and Technology “this event is a great opportunity to use online investigative techniques and hacking skills in creative and socially useful ways.” And we couldn’t agree more. 

The National Missing Persons Hackathon is indeed the first of its kind event however a group called Trace Labs also brings together hackers from around the world to use their skills to find real missing people. In fact, Trace Labs was also one of the participants at the Hackathon.

Watch how Trace Labs work:

Remember, if you have any information on the missing person in your area don’t hesitate to inform your location authorities.

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