Share icon
Sign up for our newsletter
Close icon

    Enter your email below to receive a free e-newsletter with the latest IWF news, industry and parliamentary updates and events direct to your inbox.

    Site types

    In 2022, as in previous years, image hosts were the website type most frequently abused by offenders distributing child sexual abuse imagery. These sites provide “storage” for images which either appear on dedicated websites or are shared within forums – another heavily abused site type.

    When our analysts see this technique, they ensure the website is taken down and each of the embedded images is removed from the image hosting service. By taking this two-step action, the image is removed at its source and from all other websites into which it was embedded, even if those websites have not yet been found by our analysts.

    Cyberlockers continue to be exploited by criminals sharing child sexual abuse imagery. These high-storage sites can be used to share one image or video at a time, or one or more folders that could potentially contain hundreds of images or videos under a single URL.

    Image hosts also allow vast quantities of images to be indexed and saved, however these are not as easily accessible to the public as an image host or cyberlocker site.

    Download icon

    What can we do about this?

    Our award-winning IWF Hash List, launched in 2016, can help image hosts to tackle this abuse by preventing the upload, sharing and storage of known child sexual abuse images and videos.

    As well as removing images and videos from forums, chat sites and other platforms where child sexual abuse imagery is shared, our analysts ensure that these files are taken down at source by locating the image host sites where they are often stored. This prevents further distribution.

    Paid for vs free hosting services

    • 228,927 URLs (90%) were hosted on a free-to-use service where no payment was required to create an account or upload the content.

    In the remaining 10% of cases, the content was hosted on a paid-for service, or it was not possible to tell whether the hosting was free or paid for.