Copycat


Conducting internet investigations is tedious at times, especially when you run out of corners to look in. The truth is that, there is always more data to find online than what is initially apparent. An exterminator once told me, “If you see one bug on the floor, you can bet there’s twenty more behind the wall.” The same goes for online information. If you find one piece, you can bet that there are several more waiting right around the bend.

One method is to search shared information. If you find another site hosting identical information, then you will have another data source to harvest. This is what I call a virtual-breadcrumb. Say if one of your suspect’s websites has contact information listed, we can Google that data and perhaps find a related website. One problem with searching for similar sites using a common search engine, is the plethora of junk results returned. If you search a phone number, you are almost guaranteed to return page, upon page of reverse phone number search sites (likely owned by Intellius).

This is where I recommend trying a plagiarism checker like Plagiarisma.net or Copyscape.com. If your suspect’s website is an e-commerce site, you can bet that they will likely have another. For reasons of simplicity, many site admins re-use common pages on their websites like; Privacy Policy, TOS, and About US. These pages are where you may find your next virtual-breadcrumb. A search of your suspect’s site URL through one of the above plagiarism checkers will give you a list of websites that share that site’s information. You can then verify the new site, and if connected, you have another source to harvest for Whois data, analytics, etc. ~The Hi-Tech P.I.

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