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Social Media – A Potent Source of Forensic IT Intelligence  

These days more than 80% of Brits are online, and social media has been mainstream for some time. It naturally involves the open sharing of personal and professional information, which means it is also fast becoming one of the richest sources of IT-led intelligence for law enforcement. It looks like social media investigation is an incredibly valuable tool in the forensic IT world. Here’s how we and other forensic IT experts harness social media.

Social media insight widely used in evidence

Law enforcement agencies regularly  use information from social media sites to use as evidence. Most commonly of all, it’s used to attribute mobile phones to their owners and pin down conversations and images related to an investigation. But internet protocol logs are fast becoming the next big thing, used to help identify individual social media account holders.

If you have a Facebook account you could deny that you posted something, or blame someone else for it. Experts like us can easily analyse the relevant IP session logs and identify the IP address used at the time – and on the date – the suspect message was posted.

Facebook also provides device information for each account session, potentially including the device type, operating system, hardware version, mobile operator or ISP, browser type and time zone. And the network even grabs admin-led IP address information, for example the IP address used at the exact moment a Facebook profile picture was added or a user name created. All it takes is a court order or the go-ahead from the right authority and the ISP is forced to hand the information over.

An ISP is legally obliged to provide details of the registered account owner, the person to whom the IP address belonged at the time, and the IP address at the time the account was first set up. When the IP address matches that on the session log, and matches the time and date a message was sent, accurate attribution is a relatively simple matter.

The importance of publicly-accessible social media research

Open source research is also informing more and more forensic IT  investigations. It’s being used to check up on the activity of potential employees, for looking into the conduct of existing employees and investigating specific incidents within a company. We can use social media investigations to build profiles for individuals and businesses, using overt insight to build a clear picture. Read more about our employee background checks here.

As more of us post information daily about our personal and professional activities, social media delivers insight into a surprisingly broad range of details: lifestyle, financial status, contacts and a great deal more.

Real time observation of social media

Real time searching of social media is another powerful tool, where you run relevant search terms across multiple social media sites at the same time to track down real-time posts about specific subjects.

Think about the risks and take sensible action

If you allow your employees to access social media at work, you might find it backfires on you. As an employee you can get into an awful lot of trouble through the misuse of social media, whether innocently or with mischief in mind. In general, social media at work requires very careful handling. Because social media investigations are set to become more widespread, it’s wise to think carefully about your company’s social media policy and setting something suitably secure in place. If you have any questions or require our services, please contact us.

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