Online investigation is a piece by piece process that we hope will bring us to the Aha moment! Sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t. In today’s research climate, online resources have become even more valuable to the Private Investigator or Online Researcher. One indication of this is the evolution of online data bases and web scrapping software companies who are able to offer us much more than years past. How well are you keeping up?
Time is Money- Money is Time
The world wide web is huge and the image above provides a great visual of just that. When you begin your online search this is something to keep in mind. How much time are you willing to invest to gather the data you need? Many times two heads are better than one. We confer with other team members when conducting online research all the time and have found it to be very valuable. A fresh set of eyes can make a huge difference.
Multiple software platforms are better than one platform. Each platform captures data from different online data bases. Sometimes the most important data point is found by scrapping the web against every single piece of information you have available and know to be true. One thing can lead to another when it comes to online research and each data point you gather leads to another and so on. It is a good idea to get another prospective when you can, by either hiring a third party or trying out a new software/data base even if there is a small cost to it. Depending on the case, your strategy should include options whenever possible.
Discover the Right Apps
Recently, we wrote about the importance of Social Media Apps such as TikTok. Apple has over 2.8 million apps available currently. That is a whole lot of apps! We will zero in on a couple that you may find helpful. Check out new apps regularly for your online investigations.
- Downloadgram: Downloader for Instagram: Photo & Video Saver allows the user to download videos and images from Instagram’s links. By copying image’s and video’s link and pasting into Downloader for Instagram which automatically downloads that video/image, then you can save into your device.
- Photo Investigator: The Photo Investigator is an iOS app to view all image metadata (all the possible data stored ABOUT and within each photo). You can also remove photo metadata with an in-app purchase. The Investigator can also open the image’s GPS location in the maps app for directions; view images at full size and zoom them larger than in the Photos App.
Protecting Your Privacy
One of the very first things I recommend is to get a good VPN (Virtual Private Network). There are a lot of options. Take a look at Best VPNs of 2020 for a good list of options. We use NordVPN and have been very pleased. First and foremost it provides a strong degree of online anonymity. Additionally, when reviewing providers, make sure that you have the option to include mobile devices as well. This will keep you protected when you need to search using your mobile device on the road.
Another thing to keep in mind is when something online is “free” you are very likely giving them your private user information in some way. It is just the way the web works. Many data bases do offer free searches. You get a little taste of what the site offers but at a price.
This is why it is a good idea to use an email masking service. One that I would recommend you take a look at is 33mail.com . An excellent safeguard when having to supply an email address online. The site explains how it works below:
“Aliases are created automatically the first time an email is sent to them, so you can just make up an alias on the spot and use it when you sign up for a website, and it will be created the first time that website sends an email to it.“
As many are still working from home, protecting yourself online has never been more important.