If you haven’t heard, the Toronto Mayor, Rob Ford, supposedly appears in a video smoking crack. Gawker wants donations to buy the video for $200,000. Well this seems like a 80/20 situation. 80% of the damage done in 20% of the time that this goes on.
Here are some things to consider about this strange news item:
1. If they don’t get enough money to buy this video, then we don’t know if it really exists, but the damage is done.
2. If they buy it, then they are paying-off criminals. After all they are self-professed crack dealers. They are the gangsters that bring about most of the shootings and murders in Toronto.
3. If they buy it, they need to buy the device that recorded the video or we can’t tell if it was altered.
4. It will take a long time to analyze the video to determine if it is likely unaltered. If it is altered or fake, it doesn’t matter, the damage is done.
5. While the video may be unaltered, we might not ever know if it was a continuous recording or one that was recorded selectively for some desired effect.
6. No matter what happens, the damage is done — damage that goes far beyond one mayor or city. Welcome to the brave new journalism.
I always use the subject’s known email addresses as search terms. I assume that any good Investigator would do the same. However, where you search matters.
Have you ever searched an email address and found that it was compromised? Groups like Anonymous and Lulzsec sometimes post lists of compromised email addresses along with the associated passwords. Do you know where to search for this and how to report it?
“I didn’t post that! My account was hacked!” is a common ‘Weinergate’ inspired excuse. If the Investigator doesn’t make a reasonable effort to search for the possibility of a compromised account, then he may be judged incompetent or negligent.
Without the co-operation of the subject, the Investigator must start an organised search for indications that the email account has been compromised.
Always search for the name of the email service provider and the words ‘hacked’ and ‘compromised’ along with ‘accounts’ and ‘email’. If you find something, then compare the date of the security breach to the time of your own Weintergate.
Next, search shouldichangemypassword.com, pwnedlist.com, and hacknotifier.com. The first two only tell you if the account might be compromised, while the last one sometimes links the searcher to online information about the security breach.
Of course the Investigator should document the search and explain the sources that were searched.
We often use cut-outs to gather information in smaller communities as government clerks occasionally talk too much. Sometimes they deliberately tell the subject, or even local news media, that a search is underway. We never tell our agents why our client needs the information. We frequently request unrelated documents from the same government office to conceal why we are using the agent’s services. This disinformation also proves useful should our agent become too talkative while doing his job.
We often find it prudent to get an agent in another province to requisition federal government documents under the Access to Information Act as we are sometimes seen as adversarial towards government or bureaucratic interests. While we have never had a request denied, we have certainly been delayed because the department involved has guessed for whom we act.
flickriver.com is a Flickr viewer and search tool, searchable by user name, tag, group and place.
If you need a good picture of the Earltown NS general store, or all pictures by DeadFred.com, or a picture of the DEW Line radar picket ship, USS Investigator(AGR-9/YAGR-9), then you can find it through flickriver.com.
The Boston Marathon incident is somewhat instructive from an Investigative Internet Research (IIR) perspective.
News reporters are skilled at IIR — some to the exclusion of real journalistic skills if the preponderance of churnalism in the popular media is any measure. However, one instance of a reporter finding the terrorist’s Amazon Wish List is interesting. The reporter was drawing conclusions about the terrorist from the contents of the wish list.
The default Amazon Wish List setting is ‘Public’. The other settings are ‘Shared’ and ‘Private’ which seems to defeat the purpose. The default setting is the most common.
Case Sensitive Search in Yahoo!
Case sensitive searches help when searching a person’s name and certain words such as the month of March, rather than a marching band, or a person from Poland is Polish, not silver polish.
CaseSensitiveSearch.com appeared in April 2013 and provides a case sensitive web search engine based upon the Yahoo! search engine database. However, this search is based on a paid service called BOSS that allows developers to create custom Yahoo! search engines for a fee. In this case, we do not know what pricing plan the developer is on, therefore, we do not know what portion of the Yahoo! index the thing searches.
During the recent apparent demise of Google Alerts, I turned to using Talkwalker and Mention.
I found Talkwalker to be better than the broken-down Google Alerts. Mention seemed interesting, but the Web interface was not confidence inspiring and the need to download an app always makes me suspicious of what security risks that would cause.
Now that Google Alerts is working better, I am finding that it is almost keeping up with Talkwalker and finding new material in each set of results.
With the reawakeing of Google Alerts, I am not going to abandon Talkwalker and Mention — I am just going to add them to toolkit.