A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

So a couple of years ago some thieves broke into my F-150 (via a common security flaw in that year/model), stealing my GPS, DVD system, car stereo and a digital camera. A quick call to my insurance company took care of replacement of the stolen items; however, my following concern was the photos stored in my digital camera. Even though their intention was to sell the hard goods on the black market, these crooks now had photos of my family, home, etc. This was a little unsettling.

I filed a report with the local police department, which included serial numbers of the items, but even the police said it is very rare these types of items are ever recovered. After I thought a little more about the contents of the camera’s memory card, I concluded that there was really not enough in there at the time to worry. Further, there was nothing incredibly embarrassing portrayed that if released somewhere online, I would be force to change my name and move to Costa Rica. However, if there was a way to help track down my camera and recover my pics, I sure would have used it.

I recently came across an interesting website that may help folks in the same situation. It is called www.stolencamerafinder.com. This free service allows you to upload a photo taken on the misplaced camera and search online for any photos containing the same metadata. You may also input your camera’s serial number manually. The Metadata often contains the serial number of the camera the photo was taken from; therefore, if a thief snaps a pic with your camera and uploads a photo online, theoretically this service should find it. Possibly then leading you back to the perp.

I have not had the occasion to test this service extensively, so I welcome any feedback or success stories.

Alternatively, I also found a user-powered website called www.ifoundyourcamera.net. This site allows anyone to upload photos they have found, in hopes of finding and returning the photo to its rightful owner. Not as technical as the aforementioned, but noble none-the-less.

Keep following those virtual breadcrumbs. ~ The Hi-Tech P.I.

IP Cybercrime Bootcamp World Tour

Don’t miss the next IPCybercrime Boot Camp taught by my brother and mentor Rob Holmes.

“Rob Holmes, CEO of IPCybercrime.com LLC, has created a much-anticipated workshop on the state-of-the-art techniques that have made him the premier innovation leader in the Online Investigations industry. Never before, anywhere, has this much quality content been imparted in one place.”

This truly is the highest quality instruction available on Internet investigations in our industry. Every attendee is wowed at the amount of content, as well as the usefulness of Rob’s techniques.

For a list of Venues and for more info visit this link IPCybercrime Boot Camp

This is a little Creepy

Imagine the ability to type in someone’s Twitter handle and find out everywhere that person has been. Their local coffee shop, office building and even the street they live on. A little app called Creepy has made some waves with privacy advocates,  because it does just that.

Cree.py is an application that allows users to gather geolocation related information about other users from social networking sites and image hosting services. The information is presented in a map inside the application’s interface where all the retrieved data is shown accompanied by coordinates or other relative information.

Creepy’s location information is obtained from various sources including: EXIF tags from photos, geolocation feature from hosting API, coordinates from mobile devices and IP addresses transmitted from web checkins. Platforms currently supported are: Twitter, Foursquare, flickr, twitpic.com, yfrog.com, img.ly, plixi.com, twitrpix.com, foleext.com, shozu.com, pickhur.com, moby.to, twitsnaps.com and twitgoo.com. The one catch is that this application only works if the user has location sharing turned on within the platform settings.

Try using this app the next time you have a Skip you’re trying to locate or a target you are trying to serve process. It just may be the tool you need to close that case. Like any application, it has its limitations. But I think it is a worthy weapon in our arsenal.

Creepy may be downloaded from here: http://ilektrojohn.github.com/creepy/

Keep following those virtual breadcrumbs. ~ The Hi-Tech P.I.

Searching High and Low

There are many ways to confirm someone’s residence during an investigation. Now depending on local laws, some of these methods could be illegal, so always verify beforehand. In order to find Intel that will confirm a suspect resides at the alleged address, an investigator will sometimes examine letters in the mailbox, look at trash in garbage cans or just wait around for the resident to appear. In some situations they may even have a neighbor or local mail carrier confirm residence, but that is only if anonymity is not a concern. Now the aforementioned ‘low-tech’ methods of confirming residence are usable, but let us explore a couple of high-tech methods as well.

Our first high-tech method requires a WiFi enabled device, e.g., smart phone, tablet or a laptop. Once parked in front of the suspected residence, open your WiFi device’s Wireless & Network settings. A screen similar to the one pictured below should be viewable, revealing a list of available networks. Each network is represented by an SSID aka network name. Some SSID’s are gibberish, but many will be customized by the owner. So if you were sitting outside my house and searched for a WiFi network you may see ‘The HiTech PI’ (example only), along with a strength indicator, which is an added bonus because the closer you get to that residence the more confirmation you will have. As you can also see I have a neighbor by the name of Wesley and another Madison, both true. I have seen many people use good indicators like “Holmes House” or “Craigs Cave”.

The great thing about using SSID as confirmation is that it is in real-time. You know that the resident has current internet service at the address that is broadcasting the signal.

Another high-tech method used to locate/confirm residence are location based social networking platforms such as Foursquare and Gowalla. Along the same lines of network names, are user created ‘venues’ or places with their own names incorporated in them. For example my friend’s home may be a venue called “Joe Smith’s Garage”, which usually lists an exact address or cross street. Even though it may only list a cross street, since these are GPS enabled apps, the marker on the venue map is often an accurate GPS placement. The Foursquare method can be utilized when you are in the area of the suspected residence, or alternatively, venues may be searched at http://www.foursquare.com, where they can be narrowed by city and zip.

Keep following those virtual breadcrumbs. ~ The Hi-Tech P.I.

A Warrior Poet – Bob Holmes (1948-2004)

If I could ever describe my father in two words it would be a “Warrior Poet”

The Warrior Poet- The ‘Warrior’ part of the name is there for a reason. He has lost none of his edge from his rowdier days, and will not hesitate to make use of his fighting skills when all other options have been exhausted. He merely asks questions before he strikes.

Anyone that was lucky enough to know him, knows that the above describes Bob to a tee.  He was one of the most affable tough guys I have ever known. Always quick with a left hook, but quicker with a smile.

As much as we men strive to be our fathers, there is always some aura that we lack, and of course that is what makes us individuals, but it is also what makes us incomplete. ~ Jason Holmes