Week in OSINT #2020–22
Artciles, tools and tips, your usual weekly OSINT overview to start your week.
Hello and welcome to June! This time I had some more time to dive into the news of last week, so here are some interesting topics I managed to dig up for you from the last couple of days:
- More TikTok
- Hunt for an Activist
- Indoors Geolocating
- Think Like a Hacker
- Virtual Tours
- Visualising Twitter Networks
Stefanie Proto shared a new search tool last week, called Runnarroo. It shows aggregated search results from Google, but besides that it also contains deep search results from other sources via their own 'spider'. This results in the left side of the screen having the usual search results, and the right side with results from an appropriate source. It also offers Bing image search and maps from Google, Bing and Apple.
It does however seem it still has some issues. When searching for hiking trails to get some insight into the surroundings of Geneva, it only showed me the results from the Hiking Poject when I had a typo in my search. After correcting the typo, it didn't show me any results. So still a work in progress, but absolutely a site that might be worth checking out!
Bellingcat has written a lengthy article on investigating TikTok. They show how to use Google to search for specific topics, users and locations, how to download videos or profile pictures and find shared content on other platforms. Another nice tutorial on how to investigate this platform.
Article: More TikTok
Twitter user bravoTF117 has written three articles on the more technical side of investigating TikTok. So if you get stuck after reading the previous article, and want to dive into accounts and posts a bit deeper, I do recommend reading these three posts! It will get fairly technical though, so it may not be suitable for everyone.
Article: Hunt for an Activist
A researcher working for Check Point Software Technologies was able to trace the infamous hacker called 'VandatheGod'. After defacing about 5000 websites they managed to track him down, and this is a little insight into how they found him. It's almost impossible to stay truly hidden as a criminal, and nearly all of them seem to make OpSec mistakes, which helped them track down to person they were looking for.
Tip: Indoors Geolocating
No, this has nothing to do with the current Corona crisis (JK), but do you know there are certain possibilities to narrow down locations in indoor photos? And even if you can't geolocate them, you can at least use information depicted on photos taken indoor to narrow down your search areas. And power sockets are extremely useful for that, as Nixintel is showing us in this little Twitter thread.
Bonus tip: If you have a suspicion that the building is older than, let's say, 30 to 50 years or so, also make sure you investigate the older type sockets. Because they have changed over time, like the mandatory grounding a lot of countries have introduces over time.
Bonus tip 2: If you determined the socket type and you see natural shadows, there are some cases where you could use that knowledge to get an estimate of the direction a window is facing. For instance: Long shadows will never be casted towards the south if it's an Australian socket type.
Article: Think Like a Hacker
When people talk about OSINT, many of them think about the New York Times visual investigations, Bellingcat or the BBC investigations that use open sources to investigate stories. But other people that uses open source information, is a hacker. And similar to that: Security researchers, red teamers, pentesters and the lot. If you want to know how those people dive into domain names, IP addresses, map out infrastructure or software, then do read this article. And on top of that, there's an awesome tip about a Scandinavian business intelligence web site!
Article: Virtual Tours
Patrick Dunlop wrote an article on something I've never seen before, and I didn't even know it was a big thing: Virtual tours of houses. He shows how easy it is to get a true insight of homes that are or were up for sale, and do some recon on the physical location. I can imagine roaming around a skyscraper in New York to get an insight in the layout, or a house that used to be from a person of interest and was up for sale.
Bonus tip: If you want to see all the virtual tours that were indexed by Google, you can use the following search:
Tutorial: Visualising Twitter Networks
Ben Strick wrote a blog on how he visualises Twitter networks, from finding information, getting the raw data and eventually visualising it in Gephi. He shows you the tools he uses, how to run them, how to clean it up and eventually ending up with a huge graph. And graphic representations of an investigation can help you uncover new leads, or find a source of an event.
You want to learn some Python, but you lack an idea or project? You don't want to start a boring course that only teaches you how to add numbers, or print some text? Why not visit JetBeans Academy and pick a project?
| Sourcing Games
Jan Tegze has built a whole website for 'sourcers', or recruiters. Because just like other investigators, they specialise in open source information for some of their work. So if you want to test your skills, then do visit his website! And game number 15 is even specifically built for OSINT, built by Jan and AccessOSINT!
Have a good week and have a good search!