A SCOTTISH forensics company that develops new technologies to find and block harmful online content from paedophiles and terrorists is looking forward to a bright future after securing business across Europe and the US.

Edinburgh-based Cyan Forensics spun out of Edinburgh Napier University in 2016 and since then its two-person team has expanded to 12.

At the heart of the company’s success is the speed and accuracy of its technology, which is the first of its kind.

Previously, automated scans used MD5 hashes – where algorithms are used to help identify files – of known illegal content, but could take hours or days to do this.

Cyan Forensics’s technology speeds up investigations by giving front-line staff the ability to search suspect computers and detect illicit material in minutes – when a search warrant is being executed, or during an offender management visit, or police stop at an airport. Once identified, illegal content can be erased for good.

Ian Stevenson, the company’s CEO and co-founder, told The National: “It took us a little while to turn the technology into a product, but we had strong interest from policing fairly early on and that turned into us winning last year a fairly significant contract with the Home Office to roll out our technology to policing nationally through the Child Abuse Image Database (CAID) system.”

Stevenson said using labs for in-depth analysis had caused a bottleneck in the system: “What we’re trying to do is give people on the front line of policing the sort of digital equivalent of the breathalyser ... plug into a suspect’s computer and get really quick answers.”

He said Cyan Forensics’s technology can enable investigators to match images against the CAID 20 times faster, and added: “We’re working to use our contraband filter format which is inherently secure … to allow governments and law enforcement agencies to share their datasets to actually make the internet a safer place.

“We’re starting to explore opportunities in Europe. We’ve got a customer in Germany we’re doing projects in France and Switzerland and we’ve signed a partnership with the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children in Washington DC to start looking at taking our technology there.”

Of child abuse images remaining online, Stevenson added: “People talk about victims essentially being be re-abused every time that image is circulated or viewed online ... but there are some things that can be done ... and blocking the circulation of images known to policing on the mainstream internet seems like a pretty good place to start with that.”