By: Kathy Doering
Social Media Investigations is yet another arm of social media listening and research. A good, solid social media investigation can take hours to complete online, even with today's best software.
I recently had the privilege of attending an annual convention for a southeastern Investigator's group. While most of the discussion was around latest and greatest ways to assist in investigations of all kinds, there was a notable highlight on online investigations and techniques. My company, eChatter was one of the sponsors of the two-day conference and I must say, I learned a lot!
eChatter is a service offering by which we conduct social media investigations and deep web scans for people of interest for a variety of reasons. These days you can see why this is a booming business just by listening to your local news. As one detective said at the conference, "Narcissistic people are my favorite" and you can understand why. They have no problem announcing their ill intentions all over their social media profiles. It still amazes me what people will post publicly in social media sites that involve illegal activity.
Most people do not realize that there are three different levels of information on the web.
· Surface Web: This is the basic information out there from search engines, including sponsored advertisements. Basically, it is a gathering of sites that Google (the most popular search engine) for example, has deemed important enough to place high in results, depending on a keyword search.
· Deep Web: The deep web is where all the good stuff is hidden and it takes time to weed out results but can be very important for any investigator or law enforcement agency. Everything public on the deep web is attainable, if you know how to get in there. All publicly obtained information from a variety of sites from sex offender sites to what the person likes on their Facebook page. It's all out there for anyone to see.
· Dark Web: Sounds kind of scary, right? Well it is – it’s where all the criminal minds hang out. You may have recently seen an advertisement from Experian offering a Dark Web Scan for free. After their data breach, this was a clever way to regain trust for their brand. Whether it worked or not is yet to be seen but I give them credit for proactively handling this PR nightmare.
On a personal note, the more I learn the more I lock down my phone, computer and social media. Be aware of everything and change passwords frequently even though it is a hassle to do so.
Review the Apps that are on your phone- some you may be aware of and some you may not. Many times you can play fun games for free or take cute quizzes for free by allowing the app to gain access not only to you but your friends too.