Karl Epps 2013-08-01 05:47:45
A wealth of information can be gleaned from Facebook and Twitter, but keep in mind that there are many other sites and services that get less publicity, examples include Pinterest, MySpace, blogs, classmates.com, and chat and bulletin boards. One tactic is to first search all social media sites to see what is publicly available. In order to save time, there are services that can automate the search of all social media sites. Do not “friend” the subject, subscribe to their Twitter feeds or generally mislead. Only material obtained through public information is fair game. The good news is that there is a vast amount of information available in the public domain. Document the results with PDF or JPEG files to substantiate your findings and then ask for information from your subject. A common tactic is to ask for a subject to identify all of their social media affiliations in deposition, even passwords can be requested. Of course, a subject may refuse, but this may also be useful in the future. Consider combining the two tactics above. Perform your searches, create PDF documents of anything found and then ask for the information. If, and usually when, you are denied the information, perform the searches again. If, for example, the Facebook page disappears, this could benefit your case. In today’s society any number of persons may give tips to a client or friend to delete or alter their social media information. Do your homework as early as possible to use this to your advantage. Another useful site is www.archive.org, also known as the Wayback Machine. Checking archive.org for previous dates may provide invaluable data. Many people don’t know it even exists and it is freely available. The site is granular, so it could even be used to prove approximately when a page changed or provide a timeline going way back. In Yahoo’s case, the oldest entry is from October 17, 1996! Regarding Facebook, there are huge amounts of data readily available to an interested party. The new timeline function is a convenient way to track someone’s actions during a certain time period. Determining where someone was on the night of January 12 may be as simple as looking at a person’s timeline in Facebook. With timelines, statuses, photos, comments, likes, videos, groups, etc., Facebook is vast and feature rich. Many people don’t understand the security and implications of what they do on it. There is a whole set of decisions a user needs to make when creating or managing their accounts. In many cases, the user is unsure of what they want or what they are being asked. This can lead to privacy compromises the user is not even aware of. In addition, site privacy policies are continuously changing and users may or may not be aware that information that they had set as private may no longer be private. Photos can also be telling. A forensic technology investigator may be able to give you the time, date and even GPS location of photos. You may find that the subject has installed a “check-in” app that actually checks-in with their location when they get to specific locations. Coupling this with other information, such as text, email and phone call data can provide significant evidence. Think about when you install an app on your phone or tablet device. In many cases, the app will ask permission to access your GPS or navigation system on your device; this means that there is a likelihood that the app will know where you are. In many cases, this information is stored in the device. Phones and tablets interface with social media apps to provide the end user more usability. This in turn provides more evidence for the investigation. Drawing all of this information together, combined with other computer and cell phone forensic search protocols, can be a powerful tool to prove or disprove a case. These tactics can be used in virtually any case where a computer, cell phone or tablet is identified to the subject. The opportunities for evidence are only limited by imagination, creativity and proper use of trained personnel to carry out the investigation. Karl Epps is a partner at Epps Forensic Consulting and manages the tech consulting division which provides computer support, computerrelated insurance claims consulting, data recovery and forensic technology services. Karl is an EnCase Certifi ed Examiner. Karl can be reached at 602-463-5544 or email@example.com.
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