Week in OSINT #2018–28

From icons and aeroplanes to automatic feature extraction of satellite imagery

At the end of May I just started the idea of “ Week in OSINT” and actually didn’t think that I would be able to fill it time and time again. But this is already the ninth edition and I find myself cutting items because I simply don’t have enough time to write it all down! So much information, so many new or enhanced tools for all to use and so much to share. Talking about sharing, enough rambling done! Time to share some info, so here’s the weekly overview:

  • Robosat
  • Using Arabic Texts
  • Icon Search
  • Google Investigate Reporting
  • Jet Photos
  • Uncovering Trolls
  • Amazon S3 Buckets
  • Poaching and Maltego
  • Ships
  • Counting Crowds

Tool: Robosat

Robosat is a tool that is able to detect and extract features from aerial and satellite imagery. It is able to go over the image, detects edges of buildings and after proper training it goes as far as detecting possible parking areas. At Mapbox they have decided some time ago to open source this tool and you just have to read the post at OpenStreetMap to see what it can do. Just don’t think this is a simple install-and-use tool for everyone, because this goes a bit further!

From left to right the process of extracting features within a satellite image

Link: https://github.com/mapbox/robosat

Blog: Using Arabic Texts

Noor Nahas has written a blog for Bellingcat that explains how researchers can use freely available tools to dig into the Arabic speaking countries. If you can’t read it at all, but do need to verify information while working on a story about for instance Syria, then I suggest you read the blog post.

It doesn’t just cover the text itself, but it does give you information about Syria itself too. From live maps with the conflict zones to lists with factions on the sides of the government and the rebels. Absolutely worth a read!

Link: https://www.bellingcat.com/resources/2018/07/10/how-to-collect-sources-from-syria-if-you-dont-read-arabic/

Tool: Icon Search

Are you looking for icons that are used on a website? And are you maybe to try and find the biggest and highest resolution there is? Then the The Favicon Finder is the site you need!

Link: https://besticon.herokuapp.com/

Tutorial: Google Investigative Reporting

Pieter Van Zele just couldn’t wait for this weeks’ edition of Week in OSINT, but he just had to. Else he would have found out that he gave me a wonderful topic to add in week 28!

Google News Initiative has released about 1,5 hour of course material on their web site! Everything from using Googles advanced search options, tofinding eyewitness locations. And from reverse image searches to using historical satellite imagery. Some great material and highly recommended!

Link: https://newsinitiative.withgoogle.com/training/course/investigative-reporting

Website: Jet Photos

Yes, you read it correctly: It is massive! Looking for photos from the inside of an Airbus A300? Enough choice with over 200 photos of that. Or maybe you want to see all the different special paint schemes they use at Martinair Cargo? There are close to 300 of those! Enjoy your hours of browsing!

Link: https://www.jetphotos.com/

Blog: Uncovering Trolls

In this Medium post x0rz shows the result of an investigation into some troll accounts and their involvement with French far-right ideologies and the opposite of that. Though the accounts probably didn’t have much of an impact on anything going on at the time, it may be that external parties have tried to create unbalance or chaos in France earlier this year. Who might be behind this? And what could have been the reason for this? This investigation tries to give you all the facts and possibilities.

Link: https://blog.0day.rocks/uncovering-foreign-trolls-trying-to-influence-french-elections-on-twitter-a78a8c12953

Tool: Amazon S3 Buckets

Looking for some information that you can’t seem to find via Google? Have you maybe tried to see whether there is any information in Amazon S3 buckets? Well, you can!

The search engine provides you an entry into the world of open S3 buckets. Just fill in the company name or subject you need some more information on, and you will be presented with results that match your query.

Link: https://buckets.grayhatwarfare.com

Tutorial: Poaching and Maltego:

This article is already two weeks out and even though I read it, I forgot to add it to an earlier edition of Week in OSINT. But thanks to a retweet by cyberflik I was reminded to this, so here it is after all!

The article by AndyF1 talks about using Maltego for investigative purposes and presents a video about the topic. By using wildlife crimes and data gathered by rangers he is constructing and visualizing all the connections that can be made with all the data within Maltego. A very nice example on how to use the tool to literally connect the dots!

Link: https://medium.com/@andrewfnam/maltego-and-osint-for-crime-scene-analysis-942343790199

Blog: Ships

Via the Twitter account EngnRoom I discovered a great source of information when it comes to marine traffic.

A lot of people that ever had to have a look at ships know some tracking sites. But at Gjin they have gathered all kinds of ship tracking sites, from fishing vessels to yachts. All the links are placed on a Google sheet and has links to sites with info about ports, the biggest yachts, authorizations, cargo containers and much more!

Blog: https://gijn.org/tracking-ships-at-sea/

Counting Crowds

The last one for this week is something very useful, whether you need proof yourself that you gathered a huge crowd or not! Find a location on the map, and draw a polygon to recreate the outline of the crowd you want to count. You can also adjust the amount of people per square meter and read the estimated amount of people in that specific area.

As you can read, it is all in French. But even without the text it is extremely easy and intuitive to use. Go give it a run yourself!

Link: https://www.mapchecking.com/

Yes, that was it already! Another week done and again with some really great articles and tools, all posted by you and left for me to discover. I am off to start collecting links for the next edition, so for now there is only one thing left to say:

Have a good week and have a good search!