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Peerless: A System for Identifying and Gathering Evidence of P2P Trafficking

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2008, $237,834)

NIJ proposes to have the University of Massachusetts-Amherst build a network forensics system called Peerless that enables law enforcement to identify users who are sharing known contraband based on known hash values on a peer-to-peer network. The goal of this software system is to profile the characteristics that identify a particular file, computer, or online user identity and produce output that can be quickly turned around to generate a warrant or subpoena, to elicit a confession, or to use as evidence in a court. While the system will be applicable to contraband with known hash values, NIJ (through the University of Massachusetts-Amherst ) will build and test the system with legal files with known values. Operation of the system to detect contraband will use irreversible hashes from law enforcement that do not require access to the content. No human subject testing will be required. NIJ will work closely with the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and local law enforcement to ensure that State and local needs are being met with regard to the level of training, and legal requirements. In particular, this project will collaborate with, train, and complement the existing efforts of the Massachusetts State Police (MSP) and the Massachusetts Internet Crimes against Children Task Force (ICAC). When the system is complete, NIJ will retain the source code for storage.


The University of Massachusetts proposes to continue work to develop a forensics tool to enable law enforcement to identify users who are sharing contraband material on a peer-to-peer network. The goal is to be able to develop sufficient evidence from information accessible through the network to issue a warrant or subpoena.


This project will continue the development of a computer network forensic software tool to identify users on peer-to-peer networks that are sharing contraband. This effort seeks to produce a tool that can quickly extract the data needed from a computer network to identify a particular file, computer, or online user and produce a report that can be used to generate a warrant or subpoena.

Date Created: September 15, 2008