While OSINT work is often considered technical, it really doesn’t have to be. We’ve devoted a lot of time to developing search methods that are easy to use yet can totally revolutionize investigation processes, delivering highly successful results on a regular basis.
SL Professional is packed with tried-and-tested search methods. To get the most out of the products, users need to be aware of how they all work. So, in this article we wanted to take readers through our top pick of Social Links methods that anyone can – and should – try out today.
We put this article together with our product team to help make the descriptions as clear as possible. Trust us, no specialist skill or knowledge is required, yet the results could be absolutely transformative for any investigation which makes use of them. Let’s take a look.
- Search by Face and Name / Alias
- [Image] Reverse Search
- Get Hidden and Visible Friends
- Search Relations
- SL ISE
- [LinkedIn] Get Current / Past Employees
- Custom Google Search
Search by Face and Name / Alias
So, imagine you’re starting an investigation with just two data points: a picture and a name or alias. Perhaps you found both inputs from a single source such as Telegram, or maybe you have the data from two separate sources. Trying to find someone in social media with just a name is extremely time-consuming, since any single appellation may have hundreds of variants out there. But by matching both a name and picture, the profile you need can be found in an instant.
This search method uses real facial recognition. This means the system doesn’t just match two digital copies of the same image; it understands the biometrics of the person and finds all pictures which correspond to this data. It’s possible to find someone even if they have physically changed since the photo was taken – i.e. they have grown up or changed their look. And this feature works across all major social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, LinkedIn, and Telegram etc.
How it works
Starting with the first instance, let’s say we have a Telegram profile already containing both a picture and an alias, and we want to find the subject’s profile for all their other social media accounts. We simply run Search by Face and Name/Alias methods simultaneously via the Search Profile in Other Networks set, and SL Professional will return the exact profile we need for each source without extraneous namesakes being shown. You can run the search methods individually if there is one particular source you are looking for.
Ok, moving to the second instance: we have a photo and a name from different sources. We first need an entity to combine the input data, which would be ‘Search Profiles by Face.’ Next we just enter the data into the relevant fields, with a URL for the image. We now run the same methods, et voila – we’ll get all the profiles linked to our subject.
N.B. The alias search will only work with platforms where the internal search engine accepts aliases: Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok.
[Image] Reverse Search
Sometimes the only input data at our disposal is an image. This search method allows users to elaborate a wealth of information from a single picture, making it an essential first step in many investigations.
How It Works
Say we have a social media profile picture but nothing else. The picture in question is a nameless man wearing a black t-shirt. From an image entity, we run the method [Image] Search in Google and the system returns results of enumerable men in black t-shirts which are not actually connected to our person of interest.
By running [Image] Reverse Search instead, we now get a range of results for that particular image, showing all the online locations where it appears. These could be links, articles, or social media profiles – all of which give a number of opportunities for further expanding the digital footprint. In some cases, it will even return different pictures which match the biometrics.
Get Hidden and Visible Friends
Most social media users are aware that the platform is an open source. This means that people may well take measures to hide their connections, especially if it is someone they would rather remain secret. For the user’s convenience, social media provides the ‘Hide Friend’ option, which means the connection in question will not be visible through typical searches.
However, we have developed a search method – unavailable on many other OSINT tools – which is a truly important feature because it is sometimes the case that social media users hide their entire friend list. So, this method can change a profile from being a dead end to an open book like any other unobscured profile.
How It Works
Simply run Get Visible Friends from a social media profile entity and the results will be the ordinary list which everyone can see. So, next we select all of these friends and mark them with a flag, then run our Get Hidden and Visible Friends method. We can now see new friends have suddenly appeared which are unmarked. These are the contacts which the user chose to hide and may be extremely useful for the next step of our investigation. If the profile in question has hidden their entire list then you can just run Get Hidden and Visible Friends to view all friends.
Viewing a subject’s friend list is all well and good but sometimes we need more nuances. It’s probable that many of these connections are people our subject barely interacts with. Conversely, there are also likely to be profiles which the person of interest does interact with, but which are not even on the friend list.
In fact, there will be a whole spectrum of interaction from nothing at all to… the sky’s the limit. The beauty of this method is that it breaks this information down so users can see not just who the subject interacts with, but also to what extent.
How It Works
From a social media profile we run the search method Search Relations. The results will include all profiles that our subject has interacted with, be it a post on a news feed, a comment on a post, or even a simple like. But we can also see that each of these entities are circles of different sizes. This corresponds to the profile’s ‘weight.’ In other words, the bigger the circle, the more interaction has taken place.
This is an exclusive source Social Links provides, which contains a wealth of material of varying kinds including: names, email addresses, home addresses, IP addresses, social media profiles (of both popular and outmoded platforms), phone numbers, aliases, and much much more.
How It Works
The method can be run from a great many entities (alias, email address, person, phone number, IP address, social media profile, Twitter, and more). But let’s say we just have an email address. After applying the search method [SL ISE] Search, the system will usually return a few separate results. Next, we select all and run [SL ISE] Extract Entities, and we now see a whole selection of familiar entities from which we can develop the investigation.
[LinkedIn] Get Current / Past Employees
These are two simple methods, yet they can prove to be absolutely essential in certain types of investigation. [LinkedIn] Get Current Employees discloses absolutely everyone who is employed at a given company, at that time. Meanwhile, [LinkedIn] Get Past Employees will show everyone who has previously worked at the organization, but has now left. These can be really handy in conducting better due diligence on an individual, but can also help find potential corporate data leaks and possible instances of fraud.
How It Works
So, let’s say we are working for a company who have recently agreed on a procurement tender, however the security team suspect that the organization could contain a shadow puppet with ties to the winning vendor. By running these methods from company entities of both client and contractor, we can immediately check for personnel connections between the two, which encompass the entire history of both organizations.
Custom Google Search
When OSINT methods scour social networks for given profiles, they ordinarily do this through the platform’s internal search engine. This has its advantages because it can provide more focussed results. The downside however, is that it is not a very diversified approach.
The benefit of this feature is that, in harnessing Google as the search engine of choice, the results are different from what the standard approach delivers, meaning an investigator can see things from alternative angles. This can provide new leads when a particular line of inquiry seems to have dried up. Also, Google retains data which might have vanished from the platform itself, in particular with regards to recently deleted accounts. Likewise, this can make all the difference.
The function has to be run from either a Person or Company entity, and offers a wide range of search methods for various sources including: all major social media platforms and blogs, Asian social networks, companies, dating sites, GitHub, and media hosting communities.
If any of these search methods are new to you, give them a try – they are all easy to apply but can make a huge difference to your work, helping you achieve all sorts of investigative goals.