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OSINT or Open source intelligence refers to information about business or people that can be collected from online sources. However, it requires tools to do so, and here are 10 best OSINT Tools for 2020.

In a world full of information overload, it is natural that we feel the need to vet out the useful information. To do so, organizations globally employ a range of tools, both paid and unpaid. The latter category falls into the domain of open-source intelligence (OSINT) and can be incredibly helpful, especially when you’re looking to save hefty fees on market intelligence reports. Keeping this in mind, here are the 10 best OSINT tools for 2020:

OSINT Framework

Featuring over 30 categories of potential data including the dark web, social networks, and malicious file analysis; the OSINT Framework tool allows you to see the various ways in which you could access such types of data.

For example, let’s say you wanted to know where could you get more information about the dark web. To do so, you would simply click the relevant field on the tree as shown below and it would display a variety of sources you could use to further do your research:

10 Best OSINT Tools for 2020

This saves you a ton of time for having to search for the right tools and literally is a life-saver!

2.  Shodan

Known as the search engine of Internet of Thing (IoT) devices, Shodan allows you to find out information just about any device connected to the internet, whether it is a refrigerator, database, webcam, an industrial control system, or a simple smart television.

The advantage of Shodan is that hardly any other service offers such depth which can not only allow you to collect valuable intelligence but also gain a competitive advantage if you’re a business looking to know more about your competition.

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To add to its credibility, Shodan boasts of the tool being used by 81% of Fortune 100 companies & 1000+ universities.

3. That’s Them

How many times have you wanted to know more about an individual before moving forward with them in terms of a business opportunity or anything else? That’s Them helps you do just that by allowing background checks to be conducted using either an individual’s full name and residency city & state; phone number; or full address. In return, it gives you access to their police records, lawsuits, asset ownership details, addresses, and phone numbers.

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These checks are though currently available only within the United States. Furthermore, you would need to subscribe to a plan in order to get more than just basic information about someone.

 

3. N2YO.com

Allowing you to track satellites from afar, N2YO is a great tool for space enthusiasts. It does so by featuring a regularly searched menu of satellites in addition to a database where you could make custom queries along the lines of parameters such as the Space Command ID, launch date, satellite name, and an international designator. You could also set up custom alerts to know about space station events along with a live stream of the International Space Station(ISS)!

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5. Google & Google Images

While Google the main search engine is something that needs no introduction with its vast array of search results including videos and curated news, a lesser-known “Google Images” also exists which can come in very handy.

Apart from the obvious function of allowing you to search images, it allows you to reverse-search any image to find its real origin and therefore save you a lot of time. For example, if I had an image that I needed to track to its original uploader in order to obtain copyright permissions, I would simply upload it to Google Images who would index the internet to find me the source.

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Another incredibly helpful feature is the ability to filter images by their resolution, size, and copyrights license helping you find highly relevant images. Furthermore, as it scours images from across the internet, the results are much more in number as compared to other free sites like Pixabay.

6. Yandex Images

The Russian counter-weight to America’s Google, Yandex has been extremely popular in Russia and offers users the option to search across the internet for thousands of images. This is in addition to its reverse-image functionality which is remarkably similar to Google. A good option included within is that you could sort images category wise which can make your searches more specific and accurate.

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Tip: In my personal experience; Yandex image search results are far more accurate and in-depth than Google Images.

7. Censys

Censys is built to help you secure your digital assets in a nutshell. How it works is by allowing users to enter details of their websites, IP addresses, and other digital asset identifiers which it then analyses for vulnerabilities. Once done, it then presents actionable insights for its users.

But this is not all. It is one thing to secure your company’s networks but another to ensure that work-from-home employees are not vulnerable as well with their own setups. Keeping this in mind, you could “scan your employees’ home networks for exposures and vulnerabilities.”

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8. Knowem?

Every brand owner knows the disappointment of finding the social media handle they wanted for their business already taken. Knowem tackles this by allowing one to search username on over 500 social media networks including the famous ones with one simple search.

Additionally, it also has a feature to search for the availability of domain names but this isn’t something unique since pretty much every domain registrar would do so.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for someone to claim a bunch of profiles with a username of your choice automatically, 4 different paid plans are also offered as shown below.

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9. The Internet Archive

A bit nostalgic about the 1990s? We have a time machine here allowing you to access the different versions of pretty much any website date wise. This means, if you wanted to see how a specific website looked like on let’s say 24 June 2003, you could do so using the Internet Archive tool.

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One potential use of the tool is for analyzing a competitor’s web presence over a time period and using it as market intelligence.

10. HaveIBeenPwned

With database breaches happening every day, it’s only a matter of time before your data also gets exposed. Therefore, keeping a check is vital to ensure you can change your credentials and other details in time. HIBP lets you exactly do so by entering either your password or email address.

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To conclude, although this list is by no means exhaustive, these 10 OSINT tools will not only save your time but also a lot of money.  It is important to remember that every day, professionals from various walks of life utilize these and so it makes perfect sense for you to add it to your toolkit as well.

[Source: This article was published in hackread.com By Sudais Asif - Uploaded by the Association Member: Clara Johnson]

Categorized in Investigative Research

At the beginning of August 2019, a young white man entered a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, and opened fire with an AK-47-style rifle ordered online, killing 22 people and injuring 25 more. Less than an hour after the shooting was reported, internet researchers found an anti-immigrant essay uploaded to the anonymous online message board 8chan. Law enforcement officials later said that before the shooter opened fire, they were investigating the document, which was posted minutes before the first calls to 911. The essay posted on 8chan included a request: “Do your part and spread this brothers!”

That was the third time in 2019 that a gunman posted a document on 8chan about his intent to commit a mass shooting. All three of the pieces of writing from shooters posted online that year were loaded with white supremacist beliefs and instructions to share their message or any video of the shooting far and wide. The year prior, a man who entered into a synagogue outside of Pittsburgh and opened fire was an active member of online forums popular amongst communities of hate, where he, too, signaled his intent to commit violence before he killed. In 2017, the deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, was largely organized in online forums, too. And so it makes sense that in recent years newsrooms are dedicating more reporters to covering how hate spreads over the internet.

Online hate is not an easy beat.  First off, there’s the psychological toll of spending hours in chat rooms and message boards where members talk admiringly about the desire to harm and even kill others based on their race, religion, gender and sexual orientation. Monitoring these spaces can leave a reporter feeling ill, alienated and fearful of becoming desensitized. Secondly, some who congregate in online communities of hate are experts at coordinating attacks and promoting violence against those who they disagree with, including activists and journalists who write about them. Such harassment occurs both online and offline and can happen long after a report is published.

Consider a case from my own experience, where my reporting triggered a harassment campaign. In February 2019, I published an investigation of an e-commerce operation that Gavin McInnes, founder of the far-right men’s group the Proud Boys, whose members have been charged with multiple counts of violence, described as the group’s legal defense fund. During the course of my reporting, multiple payment processors used by the e-commerce site pulled their services. In the days after the article published, I received some harassment on Twitter, but it quickly petered out. That changed in June, after the host of a popular channel on YouTube and far-right-adjacent blogger Tim Pool made a 25-minute video about my story, accusing me of being a “left-wing media activist.” The video has since been viewed hundreds of thousands of times.

Within minutes of Pool’s video going live, the harassment began again. A dozen tweets and emails per-minute lit up my phone — some included physical threats and anti-Semitic attacks directed at my family and myself. A slew of fringe-right websites, including Infowars, created segments and blog posts about Pool’s video. I received requests to reset my passwords, likely from trolls attempting to hack into my accounts. Users of the anonymous message board 4chan and anonymous Twitter accounts began posting information directing people to find where I live.

What follows is general safety advice for newsrooms and journalists who report on hate groups and the platforms where they congregate online.

Securing yourself before and during reporting

Maintain a strong security posture in the course of your research and reporting in order to prevent potential harassers from finding your personal details. Much of the advice here on how to do that is drawn from security trainers at Equality Labs and Tall Poppy, two organizations that specialize in security in the face of online harassment and threats, as well as my own experience on the beat. It also includes resources that can help newsrooms support and protect reporters who are covering the online hate beat.

1.  Download and begin using a secure password manager. A password manager is an app that stores all your passwords, which helps with keeping and creating complex and distinct passwords for each account. With your password manager change or reset all your passwords to ensure you’re not using the same password across sites and that each password is tough to crack. You probably have more online accounts than you realize, so it might help to make a list. When updating passwords, opt for a two-factor authentication method when available. Use a two-factor authentication app, like Google Authenticator or Duo, rather than text messages, since unencrypted text messages can easily be compromised. 1Password is the password manager of choice for the experts both at Tall Poppy and Equality Labs.

2.  Search for your name on online directory and data broker sites like White Pages and Spokeo, which collect addresses and contact information that can be sold to online marketers, and request your entries be removed. Online harassment campaigns often start with a search of these sites to find their target’s home address, phone number and email. Many data broker sites make partial entries visible, so it’s possible to see if your information is listed. If it is, find the site’s instructions for requesting removal of your entry and follow the directions. Do the same for people who you live with, especially if they share your last name. There are also services that can thoroughly scrub your identifying information from dozens of online directories across the web for you, like Privacy Duck, Deleteme and OneRep.

3. Make aliases. If you have to create an account to use a social media site you’re researching, consider using an alternate email address that you delete or stop using after the course of reporting. Newsroom practices vary, so if your username must reveal who you are per your employer’s policy, check with your editor about using your initials or not spelling out your publication in your username. It’s easy to make a free email address using Gmail or Hotmail. ProtonMail also offers free end-to-end encrypted email addresses.

4. Record your interactions with sources, as they may be recording their interactions with you. Assume every interaction you have is not only being recorded but might also be edited in an attempt to harass you or undercut your work. During one story I worked on about a hate-friendly social network, an employee of the website I interviewed recorded the interview, too. The founder of the site wasn’t happy with my report and proceeded to make a Periscope video of him attempting to discredit the story by replaying my interview, courting thousands of views. If you’re at a rally, bring spare batteries and ensure you have enough space on your phone to record your interactions or have a colleague with you so you can record each other’s interactions, which help if you need evidence to discredit attempts to discredit you. Importantly, before you record any interview, check if the state you’re reporting from has a two-party consent law, which requires that both parties on the call consent to being recorded and may require you to alert your interviewee that you’re recording the call.

5. Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to visit the sites you’re investigating. VPNs hide where web traffic comes from. If you’re researching a website and visiting it frequently, your IP address, location or other identifying information could tip off the site’s owners that you’re poking around. Do your research, as some VPN services are more trustworthy than others. Equality Labs recommends using Private Internet Access. Wirecutter also has a good selection of recommended VPNs.

6. Tighten your social media privacy. Make sure all your social media accounts are secured with as little identifying information public as possible. Do a scan of who is following you on your personal accounts and ensure that there isn’t identifying information about where you live posted in any public place or shared with people who may compromise your safety. Consider unfriending your family members on social media accounts and explain to them why they cannot indicate their relationship to you publicly online. Likewise, be aware of any public mailing lists you may subscribe to where you may have shared your phone number or address in an email and ask the administrator of the email list to remove those emails from the public archive.

7. Ask your newsroom or editor for support. “Newsrooms have a duty of care to their staff to provide the tools that they need to stay safe,” says Leigh Honeywell, the CEO of Tall Poppy. Those tools may include paying for services that remove your information from data broker sites and a high-quality password manager. If your personal information does begin to circulate online, your newsroom should be prepared to contact social media platforms to report abuse and request the information be taken down. Newsroom leadership could also consider implementing internal policies around how to have their reporters’ backs in situations of online harassment, which could mean, for example, sifting through threats sent on Twitter and having a front desk procedure that warns anyone who answers the phone not to reveal facts such as whether certain reporters work at the office.

After publishing

If you do face harassment and threats online after your report is published, you may want to enlist the help of an organization that specializes in online harassment security. Troll storms usually run about one week, and the deluge on Twitter and over email usually lasts no more than a few days. Take space from the internet during this time and be sure your editors are prepared to help monitor your accounts should you become a target of harassment.  

1. Ask someone to monitor your social media for you. Depending on the severity and cadence of the harassment that follows publication, you may wish to assign a trusted partner, an editor or a friend, to monitor your social media for you. Often the harassment is targeted at journalists via social media accounts. It can be an extremely alienating experience, especially if consumed through a smartphone, because no one fully sees what’s happening except the person targeted. During these moments, it’s best to step away from social media and not watch it unfold. This is often hard to do, because it’s also important to stay aware of incoming threats or attempts to find your home and family. Whoever is monitoring your social media should report accounts that send harassment, threats, obscenities and bigotry.

 

2. Don’t click on links from unknown senders. If you receive a text message from an unknown number or an email to reset a password, do not click on any links or open any attachments. Likewise, consider only opening emails in plain-text mode to ensure photos and malicious files do not download automatically. Be extra careful about links in text messages, as it’s rare for a password reset to come through a text message and it could be an attempt to verify your phone number by a harasser or to install malware on your phone. If you get suspicious texts or emails, contact whoever you consult for security.

3. Google yourself (or ask someone you trust to Google your name for you). When the harassment begins, someone should be checking social media and anonymous websites, like 4chan, Gab.ai and 8kun, which is how 8chan rebranded in 2019, for mentions of your name, address, phone number and portions of your address. 4chan and Gab.ai have policies against posting personal information, like emails, physical addresses, phone numbers or bank account information — a practice called doxing — and should remove identifying content when requested. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and more popular social networks do, too. Also, set a Google alert for your name to see if you’re being blogged about. If you or your newsroom can afford it, consider working with a security expert who knows how to monitor private Discord chat groups, private Facebook groups, 8kun, Telegram and other corners of the internet where harassment campaigns are hatched.

4. Know when to get law enforcement involved. If a current or former address of yours begins to emerge online or if you’re receiving threats of violence, call your local police non-emergency line and let them know that an online troll may misreport an incident in the hopes of sending a team of armed police to your home — a practice known as swatting. Local police might not be accustomed to dealing with online threats or have a swatting protocol, but it’s worth making a call and explaining the situation to ensure that unnecessary force is not deployed if a fraudulent report is made.

5. Save your receipts. Check your email, check your bank account, and don’t delete evidence of harassment. If you receive emails that your passwords for online accounts are being reset, do not click on or download anything. Save all emails related to the harassment, too, as you may wish to refer to them later to see if a pattern emerges. The evidence might also be important if you need to prove to a business or law enforcement that you were the subject of a targeted campaign. Continue to monitor your bank account to ensure that fraudulent charges aren’t made and that your financial information is secure. Unfortunately, hacked credit cards and passwords abound online. You may decide to call your bank after being harassed and ask for a new debit card to be issued.

6. Let other journalists know what you’re going through. Remember, while it’s important to stay physically safe, the emotional toll is real, too. There’s no reason to go through online harassment alone. Don’t hesitate to reach out to other journalists on your beat at different publications to let them know your situation. Stronger communities make for safer reporting.

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[Source: This article was published in journalistsresource.org By April Glaser - Uploaded by the Association Member: Deborah Tannen] 

Categorized in Investigative Research

[This article is originally published in newyorker.com written By Ned Beauman - Uploaded by AIRS Member: Jennifer Levin]

An open-source investigation is a tool anybody can use; as it spreads, it will inevitably mingle with the sort of delirium and propaganda that Eliot Higgins has always meant it to cut through.

On a recent afternoon in central London, twelve people sat in a hotel conference room trying to figure out the exact latitude and longitude at which the actress Sharon Stone once posed for a photo in front of the Taj Mahal. Among them were two reporters, a human-rights lawyer, and researchers and analysts in the fields of international conflict, forensic science, online extremism, and computer security. They had each paid around twenty-four hundred dollars to join a five-day workshop led by Eliot Higgins, the founder of the open-source investigation Web site Bellingcat. Higgins had chosen this Sharon Stone photo because the photographer was standing on a raised terrace, which makes the angles confusing, and used a lens that makes Stone appear closer to the Taj than she actually was. The participants, working on laptops, compared the trees and paths visible in the photo to their correlates on Google Earth.

Stone’s location on that day—the northwest corner of the Great Gate—may not have been of grave historical importance, but the participants were employing the same techniques that have underlaid Bellingcat’s news-making investigations into subjects such as the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17, over Ukraine, and the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian Army. When Higgins was profiled in The New Yorker, in 2013, he was still alone blogger calling himself Brown Moses, and the field of open-source investigation—the microscopic examination of publicly available material such as satellite images, social-media posts, YouTube videos, and online databases to uncover the truth about disputed events—was in its infancy. Today, it is firmly established. Last year, the International Criminal Court issued, for the first time, an arrest warrant based solely on video evidence from social media, and the recent report on gas attacks in Syria by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons leans heavily on images from Google Earth that are annotated in a Bellingcat style. Meanwhile, open-source investigation reached a new audience this spring when the research agency Forensic Architecture, which has often collaborated with Bellingcat, was the subject of a show at London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts. (It has since been shortlisted for the Turner Prize.)

 

Higgins, who lives in Leicester with his wife and two young children, is now fielding ever more interest from journalists, N.G.O.s, corporations, universities, and government agencies, eager for his expertise. One of the participants in the London workshop I attended, Christoph Reuter, is the Beirut-based Middle East correspondent for Der Spiegel, and has worked as a reporter for three decades; when I asked him about Higgins, he made a gesture of worshipfully bowing down. Higgins started Bellingcat with a Kickstarter campaign, in 2014, but today almost half of its funding comes from these paid workshops, which he has been running since last spring, with the first in the U.S.—in Washington, D.C., New York, and San Francisco—planned for later this year. Higgins is also developing a partnership with the Human Rights Center at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, and hopes to hire enough staff to expand Bellingcat’s coverage into Latin America.

Higgins’s work is animated by his leftist, anti-authoritarian politics. One of the workshop attendees, a Middle East analyst named Robert, didn’t want his full name used in this article because certain factions in the region may see any association with Bellingcat as suspicious. But an open-source investigation is a tool anybody can use; as it spreads, it will inevitably mingle with the sort of delirium and propaganda that Higgins has always meant it to cut through. Crowdsourced Reddit investigations into Pizzagate or QAnon often appear, at first glance, not so different from a Bellingcat report, full of marked-up screenshots from Google Maps or Facebook. Even on the mainstream-liberal side, a new conspiracy culture sees anti-Trump Twitter celebrating any amateur detective who can find a suspicious detail about Jared Kushner in a PDF.

At the same time, the Russian government, which has derided Bellingcat’s open-source investigations in the past, now issues satellite images of bombings in Syria, inviting members of the public to look closely and see for themselves; RT, the state-sponsored Russian news channel, has launched its own “digital verification” blog, seemingly modeled on Bellingcat. In ramping up both reporting and training, expanding Bellingcat into some combination of news magazine and academy, Higgins is working to, in his words, “formalize and structure a lot of the work we’ve been doing” at a moment when the methods he helped pioneer are more than ever threatened by distortion and misuse.

I asked Higgins whether he excludes anyone from these workshops. “We’re going to start explicitly saying that people from intelligence agencies aren’t allowed to apply,” he said. “They’re asking more and more. But we don’t really want to be training them, and it’s awkward for everybody in the room if there’s an M.I.5 person there.” I asked how he’d feel if a citizen journalist signed up with the intention of demonstrating that, say, many of the refugee children who apply for asylum in the U.S. are actually grizzled adult criminals. He said he’d let that person join. “If they want to use these techniques to do that reporting, and it’s an honest investigation, then the answers should be honest either way. They should find out they can’t prove their ideas. And maybe they’ll learn that their ideas aren’t as solid as they thought.” Ultimately, Higgins respects good detective work, no matter where it comes from. At one point in the workshop, he showed the group a video about 4chan users taking only thirty-seven hours to find and steal a flag emblazoned with “he will not divide us,” which Shia LaBeouf had erected in front of an Internet-connected camera in a secret location as a political art project. “4chan is terrible,” Higgins said. “But sometimes they do really amazing open-source investigations just to annoy people.”

After Sharon Stone, there were several more geolocation exercises, concluding, on Day Two, with a joint effort to piece together several dozen photos of the M2 Hospital, in Aleppo, after it was bombed by pro-government forces. The challenge was to use tiny details to figure out exactly how they connected together in three-dimensional space: to determine, for instance, whether two photos that showed very similar-looking chain-link barriers were actually of the same chain-link barrier from different angles. “Most of my pictures are of rubble, which is super-helpful,” Diane Cooke, a Ph.D. student at King’s College London’s Centre for Science and Security Studies, said.

Higgins mentioned that he had left out all the gory photos, but nevertheless this exercise was a war crime turned into a jigsaw puzzle. Earlier, he had paused a video projection on a frame of a nerve-gassed Syrian child’s constricted pupil, which stared down at us for an uncomfortably long time. “I am careful about that,” he told me when I asked him about his approach to such horrors. The example which most frequently upsets people, he said, is a Bellingcat investigation into a mass execution by the Libyan National Army, in 2017: fifteen dark blots are visible against the sand on a satellite image taken later the same day. “It’s horrible, but it’s such a good example,” Higgins said. “And if you’re geolocating bloodstains, you’ve got to show the bloodstains.”

Afterward, it was time for lunch outside in the sun. Robert, the Middle East analyst, complained that he had “geolocation vision”: after a few hours of these exercises, it is impossible to look around without noting the minute textures of the built environment, the cracks in the sidewalk and the soot on the walls.

Days Four and Five of a Bellingcat workshop give the participants a chance to practice the skills they’ve just learned by launching their own investigations. Earlier this year, when Christiaan Triebert, a Bellingcat investigator, was mugged by two men on mopeds while he was in London to teach a Bellingcat workshop, he recruited his workshop participants to help him investigate the city’s moped gangs. (“My adrenaline turned into that energy—like, ‘This is pretty interesting!’ ” he recalled. “We were basically analyzing the Instagram profiles, mapping out the networks, who is friends with whom and where are they operating.”) Triebert has also run workshops in several countries where reporters are under threat of death. In Iraq, for instance, he trained reporters from al-Ghad, a radio station broadcasting into isis-occupied Mosul. “Some of their friends and colleagues got slaughtered by isis militants, and there was the video of it—they were drowned in a cage in a swimming pool. They said, “We really want to know where this happened, so if Mosul ever gets recaptured we can visit, but also just to see where they murdered our friends.” We started mapping out Mosul swimming pools, and within an hour they found it.

In the London workshop, the participants split up into three teams: one was trying to geolocate a video showing a bombing by U.S. forces somewhere in Damascus; another was analyzing the connection between water shortages in Iraq and the filling of the Ilisu dam, in Turkey; a third was investigating the leaders of a recent rally in London protesting the jailing of the far-right activist Tommy Robinson. Space took on the atmosphere of a newsroom. By the afternoon, the Damascus team had divided its labor: Higgins and Reuter were pursuing a single electricity pylon in the background of the murky green night-vision footage, which they thought would be enough to geolocate the bombing; Marwan El Khoury, a forensic-science Ph.D. candidate at the University of Leicester, was trying to pick out Polaris from the constellations briefly visible in the sky, in the hopes of determining the orientation of the camera; and Beini Ye, a lawyer with the Open Society Justice Initiative, was combing through relevant news reports. “Nobody has ever been able to geolocate this video, so it’s a matter of pride,” Higgins said.

 

On the last day, pizza was ordered so the three teams could work through lunch. At the deadline of 2 p.m., Robert, representing the Ilisu team, got up first. “We haven’t found anything spectacularly new,” he said, “but we’ve discovered that a claim by the Iraqi Water Ministry might be more or less correct. That sounds really boring, but I think it’s important.”

The Tommy Robinson team was next. It had found out that “Danny Tommo,” one of the pseudonymous organizers of the pro-Tommy Robinson protest, was already known to the police under his real name. To some laughter, they displayed a headline from a Portsmouth newspaper reading “Bungling armed kidnappers jailed for ‘stupid’ attempt.”

Five minutes before the deadline, there had been a burst of excitement from the Damascus team: Higgins had remembered that a Russian news service had put GoPro cameras on the front of tanks when embedded with Syrian armed forces in 2015. In one YouTube video, the tank jolted from the recoil after firing its gun, and for a moment it was possible to see a pylon on the horizon—which was helpful, Higgins explained, but not quite enough. Still, that didn’t mean the crucial pylon would never be found: some photos from Bellingcat investigations have taken as long as two years to be geolocated. “It’s good that it was really hard,” Higgins told me later. “You have to rewire how people think about images. So they become really aware of how the world is constructed.”

Categorized in Investigative Research

Written with lawyers in mind, this book provides everything attorneys need to know about conducting online research.

A few weeks ago, I received a review copy of “The Cybersleuth’s Guide to the Internet,” written by Carole A. Levitt and Mark E. Rosch. This book, which was recently updated and is now in its 14th edition, was written to guide lawyers through the process of using the internet to conduct effective and free investigative and legal research.

There’s a wealth of information available online. For busy lawyers, locating a key piece of data can be instrumental to a client’s case. The trick is knowing where it can be found and how to access it. That’s where this book comes in. Written with lawyers in mind, it provides everything attorneys need to know about conducting online research.

At the outset, the authors delve into the ins and outs of the most popular search engines, explaining how to use them to locate information. They spend an entire chapter on Google — rightly so — but also cover Bing and DuckDuckGo.

Two of the most useful chapters cover locating people and public records online. In Chapter 9, the authors provide information on ways to use the internet to locate people and conduct background checks. In it, the authors explain how and why to research individuals online, noting that many of the most free, popular sites they’d recommended in the past are now fee-based.

According to the authors, one site that continues to be free and incredibly useful is Pipl, which is described in full. Also covered are the ins and outs of using Google effectively for this purpose, including search methods that yield relevant results.

In Chapter 10, the authors focus on websites that provide access to free public records and publicly available information. The websites discussed include:

In Chapter 12, you learn this interesting tip: you can use your public library card to gain access to expensive pay databases for free via your library’s online portal. To do so, you’ll need a library card (and possibly a pin number), and will then need to locate the databases on your library’s website. Databases available at some libraries include the full text of the Wall Street Journal and New York Times, Gale’s Business Directory (provides background information, broker reports, and more), and access to ReferenceUSA or AtoZDatabases, which include addresses and phone numbers for millions of people and businesses. In this chapter, the authors walk you through how to use many of these databases.

In subsequent chapters you’ll learn how to:

1) use court dockets as investigative tools;
2) locate liabilities, including bankruptcies, UCC filings, judgments, and liens;
3) locate assets;
4) access vital records;
5) navigate telephone and address directory websites;
6) locate criminal records;
7) find experts and verify their credentials; and
8) much more. This book even includes tips on searching social networking sites and locating images online.

Because of the mercurial nature of the internet, online content is constantly changing and is updated often. So, unfortunately, as soon as this book was published, some of its content was already outdated. But, that’s the nature of the beast and is to be expected when you’re covering internet tools.

Fortunately, the authors maintain updates on their website. So, for example, prior to the publication of the 14th edition, no changes had been made to PACER since 1988. However, since it was published a few months ago, a number of significant changes were made to PACER. Those updates, along with others that are periodically added, can be found here.

For even more tips and tricks from Carole and Mark, make sure to watch the video of this webinar from a few years ago where they share information on using the internet for legal research and investigative purposes.

Source: This article was published abovethelaw.com By Nicole Black

Categorized in Investigative Research

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