Reviewing OSINT Tools for Deep Social Searches

New Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) tools pop up all the time. Keeping up with them is becoming a job in itself. Every research resource needs a regular review: Is it still offering up the best information for professional needs? This week, we briefly enter the world of Google to find a user’s nickname and then slide into several sites that offer a broad array of intel on your subject. We also give you a tip on how to work around some of Facebook’s changes to its search functions.

Google

Google will always remain a go-to resource. Google allows for searching by a person’s name and quickly organizes all the social media sites in the top ten responses. The returned list of results will likely include LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at the top. Using the Twitter and Instagram matches will help capture the user’s nickname.

Namechk & PeekYou

Once the target’s nickname has been discovered, use Namechk and partner PeekYou to return further results. Each of these services covers a wide variety of social media platforms, matching the searched nickname against the list of known users and reporting the findings. Namechk is a bit inelegant in its presentation, offering up a grid of green- and greyed-out buttons, but the results are solid. PeekYou is pretty and offers email address matches in its results—a handy resource that quickly locates data. Combining both websites returns a good collection of popular and not-so-popular websites the searched subject is registered with. Namechk and PeekYou are free and don’t require login or registration.

PIPL & yasni

If searching within Google—or within Namechk or PeekYou, for that matter—doesn’t produce the target user, then try searching in PIPL and yasni. These two services allow for searching by a person’s name and location. The search can be a bit cumbersome, as generic names such as “Bob Smith” from California could return hundreds if not thousands of results. Regardless, these search engines are good, free, more targeted search resources.

TinEye & Google Images

Once a target’s profile is located, use parts of it to find the target’s other social media accounts. The headshot used for a social media profile—especially on LinkedIn—is often reused in other sites. Upload, paste or enter the image’s URL to TinEye and Google Images to see what other websites the subject subscribes to and participates in.

Alternatively, search directly in any social media platforms for the subject by name, nickname, cell phone number, and email address. Note that after the Cambridge Analytics fallout, searching by cell phone number and email address on Facebook is no longer possible.

Helpful Tip: Finding intel on Facebook with a cell number or email

You can still use Facebook Messenger to search by cell phone number and/or email address. You can also conduct a backwards search.

Go to Google and perform a site search by typing in:

site:facebook.com ch@hetheringtongroup.com

site:facebook.com 973 706 7525

Both searches will return rich results and works beyond a social media site search. For example—site:hetheringtongroup.com Kronenfeld—results for Hetherington Group’s lead analyst and manager of investigations, Rachel Kronenfeld, will be returned.