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Digital Investigations: Social Media Investigation Tools

By Expert Author: Jason Hare

As social media use expands new search tools are available for digital investigations, collating detailed information from a single starting point.

During my career, requests from clients for digital investigations into social media have been few and far between. However, in the last six months we have begun to see a shift in this trend, which has motivated us to invest in technology that will allow us to undertake these investigations securely and defensibly. We have begun to see digital investigation cases arising from companies in relation to employee misconduct.

We are also seeing cases where an employer is seeking to establish what relationships exist between employees, whether that is to substantiate claims of bullying/harassment or whether favoritism has occurred. We are also seeing cases of libelous remarks being made over Twitter, the evidential preservation of which is required for court.

The nature of social media is that it is often publicly available, meaning that, in theory, anyone can log in and do their own digital investigation. The power of the tools we have invested in lies in the ability to aggregate, search and defensibly preserve this information in a way that the average user cannot.

As an example, there was a recent news story about an incident happening at a location in London. We were not engaged in the digital investigation but using just publicly available data, we decided to see how much we could discover. All our analyst had to go on was the rough location of the property and the nature of the event.

By searching for all Face book posts and Tweets being sent within a five mile radius of the location and by searching for keywords across the social networks, we were able to establish quite a lot of information. We were able to discover the exact address of the property, the owner’s name, the names of his family members and a list of his friends. We were able to establish his political attitudes and where he worked. We were even able to establish the name of his girlfriend and where she worked. None of this had any relevance to the incident but demonstrated the potential to harvest detailed information from a very vague starting point.

For more information on social media investigations, computer investigations, digital forensics, or any of CCL’s products and services, call us on 01789 261200, email info@cclgroupltd.com or visit www.cclgroupltd.com, http://www.cclgroupltd.com/e-disclosure/e-disclosure/.

Author:
Author is a digital forensics specialist at CCL Group - the UK’s leading supplier of electronic disclosure and digital forensics consultancy, including: computer forensics, mobile phone forensics, digital investigation services and computer forensic analysis, for more information visit www.cclgroupltd.com

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