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.
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.
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.
The Download YouTube Videos add-on for Firefox puts a download button underneath the YouTube video which allows downloading videos as MP4 and FLV formats while selecting the quality level at which to save the file.
Most extensions and add-ons that say they allow downloading YouTube videos don’t really work, this one does. If you are using e Chrome, Opera, Safari or Internet Explorer, you need to install the Greasemonkey script.
The extension, Turn Off the Lights, darkens everything around the YouTube video. Clicking on the small lamp icon on the toolbar makes the surroundings go dark. This is for making screen clips of the video. This extension works in most browsers and also works on other popular video sites such as Vimeo, Justin.tv, and Dailymotion.
Watching YouTube videos is tiresome due to the ads around each video. The YouTube Options for Google Chrome browser extension hides the ads, annotations, disables autoplay, and hides the comments. It also allows you to change resolution, display size, optional flash pre-buffering, looping/replay, and video audio volume. It has a very useful feature to create a RSS link to the owner of the YouTube video or Twitter author.
If you have to work with a lot of YouTube material, then this thing is a necessary part of your Survival and Sanity kit. It takes some time to find and enable all the setting you need but it is worth the effort.
It’s apparent that Google believes that its search algorithms are capable of determining the searcher’s intent. It is also obvious that Google filters out explicit image content, regardless of user settings. If you don’t believe me, just search for a few sex acts in the image search without any filtering and witness the effectiveness of the over-riding search restrictions.
This leaves the researcher wondering what words are on the “restricted” list. With all the euphemisms for sex acts it is easy to see that searches not related to sex acts might be restricted by Google’s all-knowing, all-seeing, algorithm.
Search Site 3.2 allows you to search within the current site from the search bar, or from the context menu, or by drag-and-drop into the search bar. This makes it easy to do a website-specific search, using the search engine currently selected in the search bar, if the site doesn’t have its own search box. If you use the search bar, type the search terms into the search bar and then click on the Search Site icon that appears in the search box or press Ctrl+Enter.
Searching the current site can also be done by using the right-click (context) menu. Just select the word or words you want to search and select Search Site for selection in the context menu. Unfortunately, the search results do not automatically open in a new tab, you must hold down the ctrl key as you select the Search Site for selection context menu item. Using the ctrl key will move the results to the foreground tab or if using the search bar, hold down Ctrl when clicking on the Search Site icon to display the results in new foreground tab.
I also recommend selecting Enclose the selected text in quotes when searching from context menu in the Options Dialog.