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CIRS Self-Study Training Guide for Online Investigative Research Vol. 02 [2018] - Printed Ver.3.0

This book is developed as a Self-study Training Guide to assist you in preparing for the second part (Volume-2) of the two-volume series training program of CIRS®. While the book is designed for students preparing for the CIRS® exams, this book is a most suitable Practical Guide for Investigative ...Read more
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Short Desctiption :

This book is developed as a Self-study Training Guide to assist you in preparing for the second part (Volume-2) of the two-volume series training program of CIRS®. Whi...

  • Description
  • Specifications

This book is developed as a Self-study Training Guide to assist you in preparing for the second part (Volume-2) of the two-volume series training program of CIRS®. While the book is designed for students preparing for the CIRS® exams, this book is a most suitable Practical Guide for Investigative Online Research by anyone that uses the Internet as a primary tool for research and information gathering.

You will notice that the book is designed to show hands-on approach with plenty of screenshots captured as exhibits – It contains hundreds of practical examples, easy to follow illustrations, diagrams, charts, graphs and several lists of information resources and links.

In version 3.0 of the Training Guide (Volume 2) we have a total of six (6) Modules. Each Module has several Units (or Topics), and for those students taking classes will notice that the Units are further divided into Lessons (or lesson plans).

Details of COIRS® Exam Syllabus



This module has two 2 units

Since social media is construed as a tool of collective wisdom, it is used by researchers, journalists, investigators, social scientists, advertisers and others for information collection. However, because of its growth, it has caused information overload creating massive data cloud. This growth has compounded the issues of filtering out information from the fakes, and useful chatter from the meaningless ones.

Social Media Information Source & Profile Verification – Unit 14

This unit discusses social media Information extraction (IE) from user generated contents on social media websites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter. An example of Facebook data extraction tools is introduced that provide data such as “Social Trends”, “Industry Data”, “Demographic Overviews” Etc.

Topics in Unit 14

  • Importance of Social Media as Informative Source
    • Social Media Data as a Predictive Tool for Real-world Outcomes
    • Social Media Information Benefits for Online Research
    • Social Media Trends (Data Capture Qualitative & Quantitative Data Analysis)
  • Social Media Data Collection Methods with “Social Data Search” Tools
  • Social Network Data Collection Sources
  • Detecting Fake Accounts in Social Platforms such as in “Facebook”
  • How are Fake Facebook Accounts Created & Identified?
Social Media Information Verification Tools – Unit 15


This module has two 2 units

This module will teach Email Tracking & Verification Methods and Tools. In the social media, it’s extremely easy to assume a false identity by signing up for a service, making up a name and uploading a photo of a random person off the Web. Emails are also easily procurable for creating fake accounts in bulk use for spamming. A single user is able to create hundreds of free email accounts in a short span of time and use these to verify multiple accounts in the application. These hundreds of accounts can then be used for spam or fraud which will then create a very negative user experience.

These profile accounts are also instrumental in spreading false information, news, videos and photos that throw research or investigative work in the wrong direction. It is therefore important that the online researchers are aware of the methods and techniques that can detect and validate information source with emails authentication.

Email Technology & Reading Email Headers – Unit 16

Learn to track emailers origin and other information such as mailer server names DNS, sender locations with IP addresses.

Topics Covered

  • Email Technology – How Emails are Sent and Received?
  • Identification of various Email Messaging Components revealed inside “Email Header”.
  • Identifying Legit Email Messaging Servers.
Email Scams, Email Verification & Search Queries – Unit 17


This module has two units

In this module, you will learn about News Content Verification - Methods, Tools and Techniques. Often for research work, News or News Stories and online published News Articles are perceived to be of less information value compared to books or research papers and professional journals. Mainly because they are more reliable and considered peer-reviewed, vetted information source. Up to a certain degree, this is true; however, in comparison, the News has unique qualities that make them stand out. For instance, when we are to research events or incidents within a certain date the news and its archives can serve as a primary source of information about historical and current events. And, because newspapers also contain commentaries, opinions or retrospective articles about events, they can also serve as a secondary source of information.

News Information Source & News Bias Detection – Unit 18

The content researched from digital news and newspaper archives is being used by a large cross-section of researchers. These include academics, students, scholars, historians, journalists, content writers, professionals like lawyers, investigators, banks, financial institutions, insurance companies, actuaries, economists and analysts. It is important for the students to learn about various types of news reports and its source.

A biased news media effects the perception of truth. It sways public opinion that influences research results. Therefore, the outcome of a biased media is manipulation. It encourages ignorance and emotion over understanding and considered action. Because a biased media could be the factor that influences any number of outcomes it is important that a researcher understands types of bias, and learn to filter out biased news from a non-biased.

Topics Covered

  • Types of News Sources (News Reports, On-the-record, off-the-record, Attribution vs Non-Attribution, Anonymous Source, Expert Opinion, Leaks, Media Scandals Etc.)
  • Types of News Contents (Breaking News, Developing Story, News Stories, News Articles, News Videos etc.)
  • Types of Journalism behind News Stories (Freelance Journalism, Citizens Journalism, Online Journalism, Mainstream Journalism).
  • Type of News based on Reporting Characteristics (E.g. Soft News and Hard News)
  • News Dissipaters and News Aggregators (Broadcast Media, Social Media News, Search Engines, News Agencies and Syndicates).
  • Biased News Motivators (Govt Agencies, Politicians, Lobbyists and Activists)
  • Types of Bias in News Stories.
  • Identifying Researchers Bias in News Story.
Fake News Detection & News Verification Methods – Unit 19


Module 8 has two (2) Units

As digital trends evolve with the growth of the Internet and it's social media networks we see trends favoring online videos over textual content. Those researchers and online investigators that use video clips for information research or evidence source need its verification and authentication. They must apply authentication techniques, and follow guidelines provided by the legal system for evidence collection and preservation. Video authentication aims to ensure the trustworthiness of the video by verifying the integrity and source of video data. Especially, a series of videos manipulation software’s called “deep fakes,” have made use of technology that allows users to digitally superimpose a person’s face onto someone else’s body or imitate voice in unison with altered natural lip movements of the subject.

Online Videos Authentication & Evidence Management – Unit 20

Videos can serve as an important part of investigations, information collections and knowledge source. An online researcher can use videos for varied purposes, but most important utilization for research and investigation can be attributed to its type and source.

An online researcher (can be, investigator, journalist, attorney etc.) must understand that any video clips and images collected from the web as evidence must have some knowledge of “Digital Evidence Law” and understand “Authentication, Techniques and Procedures”.

In this unit, we will cover both the “Videos Authentication Techniques” and “Digital Evidence” collection requirements for Investigations and Investigative Journalism.

Topics Covered

  • Types of Online Videos Requiring Authentication for Research and Investigations – These include those mentioned below:
    • News Stories (Mainstream Media and Local/Global News Channels)
    • Social Media Contributed Video Clips from Freelance Journalists, Citizens, Propaganda Groups, Political Parties and Marketeers.
    • Videos Collected as Evidence to an Incident, Event and Crimes
  • Video and Photo Evidence – Legal Requirements and Digital Evidence Admissibility Criteria’s
  • Video Authentication – Approach and Methods
    • Forensic Vs Non-Forensic Techniques
    • Meta Data Extractions and Verification
  • Introduction to the Basics of Video Technology - How Videos are Made? And What are the Terminologies used in Identification of its Components for Authentication?
Identifying Video Edits, Tampering & Manipulations – Unit 21


Module 9 has two (2) Units

Fake websites have become increasingly pervasive, generating billions of dollars in fraudulent revenue at the expense of unsuspecting Internet users. The design and appearance of these websites make it difficult for users to manually identify them as fake. With the advent of sophisticated tools that manipulate images, videos and create fake news it has become increasingly difficult to sift through the website and social media to filter out the fakes from the real.

The process of websites verification is divided into three phases.

  1. Identifying Most Likely Fake Websites and Scams
  2. Verifying Website Attributes in Content Pages
  3. Authentication of Information, Offers, Products and Services on Website

The three (3) phase are covered within the two units.

Fake Websites & Website Content Verification – Unit 22

There are two types of fake websites, those that contain false information with an intent to defraud or mislead users to scam (also called Phishing or Spoofing Sites) and the other sites that showcase false information to sell products and services. However, there are some websites that are built on a temporary basis using hidden IP addresses and concealed domain ownership. In this unit, we will be discussing the topics shown below.

Topics in this Unit

In this unit, we have divided the process of websites verification into three phases. And each is explained in detail.

  • Identifying Most Likely Fake Websites and Scams Sites and How to Identify these Sites?
  • Verifying Fake or Unreliable Information on Website Content Pages, Website Layout or Design and Multimedia Files includes Images
  • Website Authentication of Claims, Offers, Products and Services
Identifying Fakes in Website Content Pages – Unit 23


Module 10 has two (2) Units

The Internet has become the primary tool for information gathering and all sorts of digital data is available in archives and specialized repositories.  Performing online search for data has become easier for investigative research and background checks of a business or individuals. However, over the past few years, the border between public information and private information has become blurred due to the Internet accessible public and private information vendors. Besides, the abundance of free and volunteered information uploads come in handy as well. Both the social media and the search engine vendors have become the main drivers of information collection. On the other hand, the traditional data miners for public data such as government institutions (federal, state and municipalities) continues to collect vital information of businesses and individuals. The Freedom of Information laws (FOI laws) allow access by the public to data held by their governments. As an online researcher it is a great opportunity to learn what data is available in the digital formats? where and how to get this data? and how to use it without legal constraints? – In these lessons that follow in Module 10, we will discuss and address these questions.

Private & Public Information, Source & Reports - Unit 24

One of the most challenging public policy issues of our time is the balancing act between access to public records and personal privacy - To obtain and use information within the restraints of the law, it is vital to understand what type of information is available legally for the public use? and which requires special permission (being private)? and conditions of its being used. We will answer these questions and provide several examples and a list of information types that fall in public and private domains. In this unit we have technically, divided Internet information sources in two (2) categories regarding information types:

  1. Public records and public information, and;
  2. Private information.

Topics Covered

  • What’s in Your Public Record?
  • Information Excluded from the Public Record
  • Public Information and Data for Restricted Use – In Specific Circumstances by Authorization
  • Certain Government Records Are Considered Confidential or Private
  • How to Obtain Certain Types of Restricted and Private Information or Data in Following Situations:
    • How to Obtain Criminal Investigation Records that are Not Public Records?
    • How to Obtain Government Records that are Considered Confidential or Private? E.g.:
      • Social welfare information, including Medicare records.
      • Social Security information.
      • ITIN Number
      • Tax information.
      • School records.
      • Medical Records and Health Records
      • Credit Bureau Reports
  • How to Obtain Protected Information Without Consent or Legal Purpose? E.g.: Bank Account Details, Financial Records, Phone Records Etc.
  • How and When to Obtain Protected Information Without Consent or Legal Purpose?
  • Types of Online Investigative Search - Background Check and Hidden Asset Search
  • Approach to Investigative Research Online
    • Facts Confirmation
    • Evidence Collection or E-Discovery
      • Methods and Techniques of Capture and Collecting Online Web Content for Evidence. (includes, multimedia embedded tags in videos, Images, voice)
      • Capturing Location Data from Mobile Devices
      • Collecting Online Data for Ongoing Investigations (Videos, CCTV, Location, Surveillance, Accomplices, Landmarks Etc.)
      • Legal Requirement of Digital Evidence Collection & Preservation
      • Social Media Data for Multifaceted Information for Evidences in Criminal and Civil Proceeding and Litigations.
  • Deriving Investigative Inferences
  • Methods of Recovering Social Media Account and Other Web Pages (or the information on pages) that were Online Previously but got Deleted or were Altered.
  • Investigative Research - “Red-Flag” Indicators when searching for a person or a business website on social media web pages – when investigating:
    • Finances and Financial Trails
    • Profession or Professional Concerns for Third Parties
    • Legal Issues Concerning Person or their Businesses
    • Criminal Involvement
  • Types of Online Search Reports – Includes Samples of Real Search Reports Available Online
    • Social Media Search Reports (Forensic Investigation in Social Media Evidence)
    • Personal Background Search
    • Bank Accounts Search Reports
    • Real Property Reports
    • Nationwide Bank & Brokerage Search Reports
    • Due Diligence Reports
    • Current Employment Search or Pre-Employment Search
    • Identify Employer Identification Number
    • Social Security No. Search
    • Skip-Trace Search
    • Bankruptcy Records, Liens and Judgements Search
    • Civil Court Records Search
    • Marriage and Family Court Records
    • Credit Bureau Reports (or Consumer Credit Reports)
    • The "Investigative Consumer Reports"
    • Specialized Consumer Reports from Bureaus
    • Reports on Trust-worthiness and Risk Management Data of Businesses
    • Other Specialized Reports
      • Employment Screening Reports
      • Tenant Screening Reports
      • Check and Bank Screening Reports
      • Personal Property Insurance Reports
      • Medical Information Reports
      • Low-income and subprime
      • Utilities Companies Data Exchange Reports
      • Retail Business “Merchandise Return Analytics & Fraud Prevention Reports”
      • Small Business Database and Reports
  • Online Database for Investigating Frauds, Scams and Other Crimes
  • Example: How to Check if an Educational Institutions is Legitimate? and Method of Examining Educational Credentials (Degrees, Certifications and Grade Sheets) for Fake Documents?
International Money Laundering Schemes & Foreign Assets Detection - Unit 25

Inclusive Online Training Resources for Exam Preparation

Online resources provide a variety of tools you can use to supplement the Official CIRS Courseware. [The following resources are available to registered students that have purchased AIRS Training Material]:

Exam Guide

Exam Guide

A guide that is all about suggesting approach and tips for passing your exams. The topics in this guide are based on feedback and most common questions asked by other candidates. It identifies topics that most students find difficult to comprehend and suggest the best approach to overcome difficulty barrier.

Online Mock Exams

Online Mock Exams

Registered students can practice real mock exams that simulate the exact same final exam pattern and similar questions. Questions are rotated at random in each section of the exams as you will find in real exams with exam re-takes. 

Online Exam Preparation Support

Online Exam Preparation Support

Students are given an online chat support by appointment to orient them and guide them for study programs and to answer their concerns and questions about the CIRS examination. [This is not a tutoring support, but a live guide from our Course Development and Examination Board volunteer members]

Unlimited Access to Research Paper & Videos

Unlimited Access to Research Paper & Videos

Access to AIRS online available research papers and subject related video clips - These are a collection of links from external sources.  Students will find these useful as references that assist in clarifying and learning concepts and topics that are part of the CIRS exam curriculum.

Supplemental Notes

Supplemental Notes

These are the learning material that is included as information and notes that either compliment the main topics in the syllabus or assist with difficult and complex topics that require elaboration or further explanations for students.

NOTE: The shipping cost will be charged based on location to ship, the country of destination and the package weight and mode of shipment. This cost will be added at the time of check out payment. This purchase is NON-REFUNDABLE and NO EXCHANGES ARE ALLOWED.

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