The OSINT Newsletter - Issue #31
Extracting profile information, followers, and following lists from Threads
👋 Welcome to the 31st issue of The OSINT Newsletter. This issue contains OSINT news, community posts, tactics, techniques, and tools to help you become a better investigator. My goal with this newsletter is to help promote the OSINT industry, develop better investigators, and raise awareness of ethical use cases for open source intelligence.
🚨 The introduction and disclaimer pages are now complete and have been added to the preorder page of the print version of The OSINT Newsletter. I’m also about 1/3 of the way complete with the print issue at the time of this writing. It’s incredible to see that almost 100 people have preordered this first-of-its-kind publication. Thank you for your support.
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🏆 Geolocation challenge
In what city was this image taken? What are the specific coordinates?
The first person to provide the correct city gets 1 month of paid access to The OSINT Newsletter for free. The person with the closest coordinates to where the image was taken from will also get 1 month of paid access.
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🪃 In case you missed the last newsletter, here’s a link to catch up.
Let’s get started. ⬇️
📰 Massive facial recognition search engine now blocks searches for children’s faces
This article is about PimEyes. If you’re in OSINT and haven’t tried PimEyes yet, you’re not actually in OSINT. PimEyes has started blocking searches that take a child’s image as input. While this might be a negative for missing persons investigations, it’s likely necessary to avoid harmful use cases where children are exploited.
📰 Investigating bad carbon credits
If you don’t know what a carbon credit is, neither does anyone else. In all seriousness, though, a carbon credit is essentially a permission slip you can purchase from the government to offset the emissions you need to produce for your business. It’s like indulgences during the Crusades but for climate change. Joking aside, carbon credits are ripe with fraud and Techjournalist shows you how to investigate them in this interesting OSINT case study.
📰 Can AI Chatbots Be Used for Geolocation?
The answer is yes; however, the results vary greatly. Bellingcat does a side-by-side comparison of the results produced by Bing (ChatGPT) and Bard (Google) so you don’t have to. I’m waiting for this capability (image upload) to land in the API so I can build some tooling around it.
📰 Chinese ‘Miracle Water’ Grifters Infiltrated the UN and Bribed Politicians to Build Pacific Dream City
Typically I like to summarize an article to let you know if you should read it or not but these folks did an excellent job so I don’t have to.
A pair of Chinese scam artists wanted to turn a radiation-soaked Pacific atoll into a future metropolis. They ended up in an American jail instead. How they got there is an untold tale of international bribery and grifting that stretched to the very center of the United Nations.
📰 A Hollywood-Backed Nonprofit’s App Promises To Identify Sex Traffickers. But Critics Say It Endangers Survivors
I’m Switzerland. I don’t have an opinion one way or another; however, if you’ve seen DeliverFund in any of your circles, this is a worthwhile read. I’m somewhat active in circles that aim to find missing persons, combat human trafficking, and prevent child exploitation. This article was sort of a shock for me to read.
📺 Tracking Down My Family Using Open-Source Research
Bellingcat Researcher Annique Mossou goes on a personal journey to find where her Indonesian roots come from. She discusses several tools, tactics, and techniques you can use to learn more about your own family history.
I think we need more content like this. Personal case studies.
📺 OSINT at Home #21: Using Google’s ‘Find Image Source’ Tool
Benjamin Strick in another high-quality video post shows you how to use Google’s “Find Image Source” tool in your investigations. This tool will help you find the source of the image you’re looking into which can create a timeline of the spread of content. Use cases vary from disinformation research to patterns of life on persons of interest.
📖 Bullshit Hunting
Justin Seitz is writing again. This time, he’s hunting for bullshit. Along the way, he’s sharing useful insights into normal, everyday things, like UPC barcodes and what information is encoded in them. Part humor, part thriller, this newsletter is definitely one you don’t want to miss out on.
🎤 Fraudish - Avi Klein
Fraudish is a podcast about… fraud. Kelly Paxton interviews a wide range of guests who dabble in open source intelligence. Avi Klein is a licensed private investigator who focuses on supporting litigators (civil and criminal), in-house counsel, and investors. He specializes in asset searches, background investigations, locating and interviewing key witnesses, identifying anonymous online fraudsters, surveillance, and challenging service of process.
🐦 Using Huggingface models for OSINT
Huggingface is a directory of machine learning models that can be used in any relevant project. Similar to Rapid API, there’s a built-in sandbox that allows you to test the models before you apply them. For open source intelligence, these sandbox trials are sufficient for most use cases. Cyber Detective shows you one of those use cases.
🔎 🥸 Facebook Checker
I ran across this tool when doing my typical GitHub spelunking. There are two versions of it but the v2 version seems to be a clone that isn’t configured properly.
What is it? It’s a brute-force Facebook registration checker to determine if an email or other supported login type is registered on Facebook. This seems more of an account takeover tool than an OSINT tool so this is part OSINT and part OPSEC.
If you’re doing network analysis on several emails and want to see how many of them are registered on Facebook, give this a shot. Otherwise, keep in mind that tools out there exist and if you see those attempted Facebook login emails (like I do), then understand these tools are being used.
If you’re looking to bypass a paywall and the tools in your toolkit aren’t working, try this tool. Titled F*** Paywalls, this doesn’t require any further description. One thing I do like is that the URL generated is a 1ft.io URL so your IP won’t even show up on the site you’re trying to bypass.
📝 Reverse engineering TikTok
Nerd alert. This GitHub repo is not for the faint of heart. If you’re interested in doing advanced open source intelligence and want to potentially build a tool that interacts with TikTok, give this a read. If you’re curious how companies like Epieos, Predictalab, and OSINT Industries build modules, this is the way. Mobile devices + SSL pinning bypass + reverse engineering.
This tool is useful for OSINT and bug bounty. It takes a domain and checks the Wayback Machine. furl mines all instances of the Wayback Machine for a given URL and tries to find opportunities for bug bounties, fuzzing, etc. This type of information can also be useful for open source intelligence depending on your use case.
✅ That’s it for the free version of The OSINT Newsletter. Consider upgrading to a paid subscription to support this publication and independent research.
By upgrading to paid, you’ll get access to the following:
⚡ An introduction to open source intelligence on Threads and a bit about Instagram.
Learn how to easily get a unique user ID that is used both on Instagram and Threads
Use that unique user ID to get profile information for that Threads account
Download follower and following lists from a Threads profile
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