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As a developer and OSINT investigator, I often come across other investigators that are researching a target online and have “hit a wall,” so to speak.  “I’ve hit a dead-end, I can’t figure anything else out about this guy.” This is an all too common phrase in this world.

There are many times we find ourselves in that place in the middle of a sea of dead ends and wrong questions.  While there are a multitude of directions we can take in this state of paralysis, today I want to talk about bad moods, or more specifically, heightened emotional states.

We’ve all been in that horrible situation where you’ve gotten yourself all worked up in a fit and said or done something you end up having to apologize to someone for.  If there’s anything we can count on human beings to do without a doubt, it’s that we get overly emotional and do something out of character or dumb.

Over 200 years ago, Jane Austen wrote in Pride and Prejudice, “Angry people are not always wise.”  There has never been a time this is truer than today in the online space. When a person is in those heightened states of emotion, they become less wise than when they are calm, and frequently in the OSINT world we can use these times of weakness to push us past the blocks we hit.

A few weeks ago, I was on a video conference call with a group wanting to purchase ShadowDragon’s tools.  About halfway through showing some of the capabilities of SocialNet, someone on the call chirped up that he’d like to see what I could find out about him online (this is a frequent challenge and one I love tackling live).  He had stated earlier that he was proud of his online footprint being virtually invisible.  

I searched a bit for aliases and things around him, only coming up with a PGP key for an email address.  Using some of my favorite email searching techniques (we’ll visit these in a future post), I discovered a Yelp profile with a single review.  That single review was not the same calm, cool, and collected guy on the call. Instead, we were met with a rage-filled rant about a doctor’s office a block from his apartment in New York.  The guy stuttered, “WOW! I completely forgot about that.”

In this short case, we started with a couple basic details, and we zoomed within a block of the target’s house all because he had gotten himself in a heightened emotional state and done something “not always wise” in the moment–a moment that would have stayed on Yelp forever had he not been shown this.

There are countless ways we find ourselves in an emotionally compromised state: extreme sadness, fear, giddiness, depression, grief, lustfulness, surprise, and disgust.  These are just a few of the emotions that can lead to poor online decisions and better opportunities for investigators hunting a target.

At ShadowDragon, we have a very large number of social networks and websites that are crafted around this and many other human concepts and behaviors built into our OSINT tools, from which we can get automated coverage.