A website found to be hosting thousands of explicit images of female students across Australia has successfully been removed from the web after one underage victim reported the criminal activity to the site's registrar.

Previously, on 16 August, News.com.au revealed evidence that more than 2000 non-consensual, and often sexual, images from at least 70 schools in the country were being traded on the website by Australian members.

Since branded as an 'international porn ring', the investigation into the website exposed how fellow students and men were using the website to 'nominate' specific high schools and locate girls they were interested in.

Once a victims' name was posted, other members reportedly then searched the web for other identifying information – including photographs, home addresses and phone numbers – before offering 'bounties' for uploading sexual content.

According to News.com.au, one user was found to be trading 300 nude images in exchange for a single explicit photograph of one girl he was "hunting". Neither the database administrator nor the registrar were based in Australia, however an investigation has since been launched.

"The sharing of this material is predatory behaviour. We will be doing everything to identify who is posting this information," Australian Federal Police (AFP) detective Marcus Boorman said during a press conference.

Matthew Warren, deputy director of the Deakin University centre for cybersecurity, warned that any explicit photos previous uploaded to the internet could still reappear on other websites.

"The issue with the internet is that information can easily be backed up and restored very quickly," he said. "People who have downloaded those pictures can do with them what they want. The fact it has been taken down is probably because of public pressure and national outrage at the underage pictures.

"The owners have realised they're not just dealing with porn but with potential paedophilia charges. It may actually be self-awareness by the owners of the legal risk. The issue is whether it's closed for good or resurfaces in a different format."

The proxy problem

Meanwhile, Roderic Broadhurst, Australian National University cybercrime expert echoed the view that it is increasingly difficult to catch the culprits in these cases or shutdown such websites for good.

"We sometimes call them bulletproof ISP [Internet Service Provider] locations — jurisdictions that don't have standard cybercrime legislation.

"They operate through proxies, in other words, they shift around their location. Although a service might be located in one place, it appears to be operating from another. If those images sit on a database in a foreign jurisdiction, where you don't have mutual legal assistance, how are we to recover them or stop them moving around?

"There's no control, no guarantee of getting them back. These young women possibly have to live with the fact these images are out there forever."