6 More of the Best Tools for OSINT Research

BLMThere are a ridiculous amount of tools out there for intelligence. Some are better than others, and if you’re just getting into OSINT research, the last thing you want to do is have to dig through all of them to find the best ones, or the ones that are easy enough for you to start using out of the box. That’s where we come in.

Here’s the TOWR Guide for 6 OSINT Research tools – a list and handy infographic you can come back and refer to over and over. Take a look at the tools below and see what you think!

SocialMention

SocialMention is a tool that does exactly what you’d think. It searches across all manner of social media for mentions of a specific search term. What makes it interesting is that it gives far more than just a list of results. Here’s a small snippet of a search for “blacklivesmatter.” Keep in mind these are partial results.

As you can see, SocialMention keeps track of everything from how often the term is mentioned to the context and feeling it’s mentioned in. This helps take a temperature, so to speak, of the social media culture on that particular topic. It also offers everything from who, specifically, is talking about it to where they’re talking. It’s a great way to get a quick pulse on a keyword or phrase.

AddictOMaticAddict

Along the same lines of SocialMention is AddictOMatic. This tool pulls information from a host of search engines and different sites on a topic and aggregates them all for you. Keeping our search on “blacklivesmatter” we see the following sources are available for search all at once.  It’s not foolproof, and it’ll miss some results, but in terms of a quick and dirty search it’ll get you started.

SocialSearcher

hashtagsAnother great social media tool is SocialSearcher. It’s more complete than AddictOMatic and offers results from a different set of sites. SocialSearcher’s real power, however, is in the time and keyword analysis features. It shows not only where people are talking about your search term, but when. In addition, it offers related search terms. We see here that when we search for “blacklivesmatter” we also get related terms listed such as “blackchristmas” and even “#Black lives matter,” so you can even catch the results from people who don’t understand hashtags. 😉 You’ll notice that some of the terms showing have nothing to do with our search term; this is also normal. It shows what the people who talk about “blacklivesmatter” also talk about.

CheckUserNames

checkCheckUserNames is a very powerful search engine. You plug in a username, and then watch as it searches across 250 different websites to see where that username has an account. If you’re ‘hunting’ someone, and they use the same username across several websites (many people do), then you can find all the places where they frequent.

Obviously this requires some work. In the example (which is a tiny snip from the results), I used the username “patriot1”. The chances of the same person being patriot1 across the internet are next to zero. If you have someone whose username is their first and last name, or something specific to them, your chances of doing a successful search go up significantly. Once you have the list, you can go to each site and glean whatever bits about themselves they’ve left in their various profiles. It’s tedious and time-consuming, but then again, a lot of OSINT research is. Good thing the results can be so worth it.

Carrot2

carrotCarrot2 is a visualization search engine. It offers search results collated into lists, foam trees, or circles (shown here).  The nice thing is that it includes links from places like PubMed, Put, and even image engines. If you’re doing an image search and want to be able to grab related topics without having to perform 50 different searches, this engine is very good. There’s also a desktop version.

One Million Tweet Map

tweetThe last tool we’ll look at today is the One Million Tweet Map. Twitter, being real-time, is a great place to find out what’s going on RIGHT NOW. This site lets you pop in a search term or hashtag, and then shows you where the tweets are coming from on that topic. Since it’s also real-time (you can change that to pull from a timeframe up to 6 hours) it lets you stay up to date on a specific event or trend. In our example, this shows the clusters of tweets using the #blacklivesmatter hashtag from only the last 2 minutes. This can give you an idea when things start trending, or if an event is starting to ramp up.

 

These are only six of the many tools available. We’ll add more in later guides. For now, try them out and perform your own searches. Use them to pull information about your own AO, or about your nearest metro area, or even about people you need to find out about.

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6 Tools for OSINT Research - TOWR Guide

 

Tradecraft for Patriots: Moscow Rules Part 2

Yesterday we looked at the first part of the Moscow Rules, a list of operating protocols for CIA personnel stationed in Moscow during the Cold War. As we’ve discussed many times, security procedures are remarkably similar regardless of the field or group using them, including the Moscow Rules. Drug dealers, organized crime, and even terrorist groups use tradecraft, and a smart partisan will study their methods, see what works and what doesn’t, and learn from it.

In this article we’ll go through the second half of the Moscow Rules and what they mean to you as a well-rounded partisan.

  • Any operation can be aborted; if it feels wrong, then it is wrong.

Right out of the gate, we see another reference to trusting your gut. Yes, it’s that important. If you’re going out to train with your firearm and suddenly one of your guys wants to bring one of his buddies, if it feels wrong, don’t do it. If you’ve set up a buyer for your firearm and when you get there the guy doesn’t seem right, don’t sell. Use your head, trust your gut.

This brings me to another pair of points. We talked in the last article about people getting turned into informants against groups and individuals, as law enforcement looks to criminalize the patriot movement. The recent case of Schuyler Barbeau is a classic example of how informants are used to put people in jail. More importantly, it’s a quintessential case study in how NOT to act on social media. It’s also a perfect example of why you should vet the people you associate with. We’ll be doing an article specifically on the OPSEC failures in this case—not because we believe that Barbeau didn’t have the right to own an SBR. The Second Amendment secures the right of any citizen to own whatever they want, and to buy and sell that personal property as they see fit. However, the truth is that we live in enemy territory, so to speak. You can bet that Barbeau’s OPSEC and PERSEC failures are being used to full advantage by the authorities, and every single person he associated with is now getting their own info parsed out. The fact that his arrest and imprisonment is unconstitutional does not negate the fact that Barbeau made some basic mistakes. To ignore them is stupid and dangerous. We can be incensed about the unconstitutionality of his arrest while still admitting that mistakes were made and learning from them.

  • Keep your options open.

Again, self-explanatory. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Don’t be caught with only one plan and no backups.

  • If your gut says to act, overwhelm their senses.

You can figure out what this one means.

  • Use misdirection, illusion, and deception.
  • Hide small operative motions in larger non threatening motions.
  • Hide an SD card transfer in a friendly hug.

This speaks to some of the smaller gestures that we engage in. When transferring information between yourself and another party, make it a small motion encased in a bigger, innocent motion—such as hiding an SD card transfer in a hug or even handshake.

  • When free, In Obscura, immediately change direction and leave the area.
  • Break your trail and blend into the local scene.
  • Execute a surveillance detection run designed to draw them out over time.
  • Avoid static lookouts; stay away from chokepoints where they can reacquire you.

There is a decent tutorial on detecting and countering surveillance over at ITS Tactical. While you’re over there, check out their piece on performing a self-surveillance. It’s critical that you understand your own movements; you might realize that no matter how many “secure” text apps you have, your actions may be wide open.

  • Once is an accident; twice is a coincidence; three times is an enemy action.

This is one of the more important rules, and one that is pooh-poohed by a fair amount of people. The truth is that it goes back to trusting your gut. Some people—myself included—believe that coincidences rarely happen. If something seems wonky, that’s because it probably is. Pay attention to patterns; things that match, and things that don’t. Pay attention to people. Get training in seeing deception (the Statement Analysis class coming up in February is a fantastic start), and learn to detect changes in their conduct patterns. Learn what motivates the people around you and how that motivation may be used against them—and by extension, against you.

  • Select a meeting site so you can overlook the scene.
  • Keep any asset separated from you by time and distance until it is time.
  • If the asset has surveillance, then the operation has gone bad.
  • Only approach the site when you are sure it is clean.
  • After the meeting or act is done, “close the loop” at a logical cover destination.
  • Be aware of surveillance’s time tolerance so they aren’t forced to raise an alert.
  • If an alert is issued, they must pay a price and so must you.
  • Let them believe they lost you; act innocent.

These are all rules for setting up meetings. They seem pretty logical and obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many people don’t do them or even think of them. People like convenience, and if things are inconvenient (such as setting up a meeting properly, using secure comms or engaging in OPSEC), people don’t like to do them. It takes work to operate correctly. It takes vigilance and attention to detail. It only takes one mistake to compromise not only yourself, but everyone you work with. If you have people you trust to have your back, don’t screw them over by being lax in your dealings.

  • There is no limit to a human being’s ability to rationalize the truth.

The final Moscow rule deals with human nature. We’ve all seen it: the anti-gun liberal who refuses to see the truth, the family members who willfully ignore the situation in our country and prefer to pretend like everything is fine. Another hard and cold truth, however, is that patriots do it too. They refuse to practice safety and security. They refuse to believe that privacy is necessary. They refuse to believe that their Facebook chats and Zello meetings and emails are being watched. They refuse to believe that physical fitness is necessary. They refuse to accept that intelligence is a critical part of the equation, or that having zero knowledge about the irregular threats in their area is dangerous. They even refuse to accept that the people they work with might be untrustworthy or even working against them. The reasons for these rationalizations are myriad, and could fill up an entire series of articles. But the bottom line is that they happen.

As patriots we have to be smarter than that. We have to pay better attention, be willing to learn from our mistakes; in fact, we need to be willing to admit that the mistakes happen at all. Don’t rationalize, don’t sugarcoat. Take hard looks at yourself, your training, your ability to operate. Be willing to accept that you have deficiencies—we all do. Be willing to learn, have a teachable attitude, and seek out the training you’re missing. Start practicing your OPSEC. Start working on your intelligence preparation. Start doing the things you’re not doing now. Share the information and training that you possess, and learn from those who are better than you are.

Educate. Empower. Resist.

Tradecraft for Patriots: The Moscow Rules Part 1

Our Tradecraft for Patriots series has gone through some theoretical and even how-to information on “operating,” as it were, as part of the patriot movement. Today we’ll talk about the Moscow Rules, which were a list of rules for CIA officers and operatives in Moscow during the Cold War. They are steeped in legend, and there is still a debate over whether they were ever written down at all. They stand today as a fantastic list of things you should be paying attention to in your daily life. If you’ve broken away from the standard pyramid leadership structure and are part of a leaderless partisan resistance group, these rules are even more important. While there are historically 10-13 Moscow Rules, ITS Tactical has the expanded list of forty. Today we’ll deal with about half of them.

  • Assume nothing.

If you’ve served in the military, you already can answer the question “What happens when you assume?” Don’t make assumptions. Make logical, fact-based, analytical decisions and predictions, but don’t make assumptions. The stakes are far too high if you’re wrong.

  • Technology will always let you down.

We spend a lot of time talking about electronic communications here at TOWR, but this is a universal truth—and not just about computers or phones or tablets. Technology, period, will eventually let you down. It’ll break, it’ll be obsolete or incompatible or otherwise unusable. Have a system set up where you can communicate without using a single electronic means if necessary. There are ways to do so. Have a backup for your technology so that when it does fail for whatever reason, your group isn’t suddenly in the dark and unable to function.

  • Murphy is right.

Murphy’s Law is alive and well. Plan for it. Expect it.

  • Never go against your gut.
  • Always listen to your gut; it is your operational antennae.

One thing that you’ll see repeated several times in the Moscow Rules is trust your gut. The importance of this cannot be overstated. If it feels wrong, it IS wrong. For instance, we’ve all gotten that uneasy feeling upon meeting someone. Many times we tend to rationalize that feeling away, or are uncomfortable making that snap judgment call, especially if someone says, “Well, you just need to get to know them.” Red flags pop up for a reason. We feel uncomfortable for a reason. How many times have we trusted someone—against those red flags—only to find out later that our gut was right all along? I’ve been as guilty as the next person in the past, and if you’re honest with yourself, you’ll realize that you’ve done it too.

This principle can be applied to everything from people to situations. Every other day it seems, there’s a CRISIS SITUATION where people want you to strap on your gear and turn into Patriot Power Ranger because It’s Time To Start The Ruckus. Remember—it’s never time to START the ruckus. That’s not what we believe, it’s not what we do. Before passing on information or videos of yet another pissed off guy wearing a skull bandana, vet the information. Check out the people calling for action. Who are they? What do they want? What is their track record for integrity? WHY do they want you to act? What action do they want you to take? And what do they or their group gain if you do act?

Again, if it feels wrong, it is wrong. We’ll be doing an article later on some of the ways you can spot agents and informers, by the way. For now, trust your gut. Every time. That brings us to the next rule.

  • Everyone is potentially under opposition control.
  • Don’t look back; you are never completely alone. Use your gut.

The cold hard truth is that there are government agents in the patriot movement, and some people in the patriot movement get turned by the government into informants. Remember—the argument that “I’m not doing anything illegal” doesn’t matter. According to the government, if you believe in limited government involvement, denounce the surveillance state, and are willing to stand up for individual liberties, you’re a domestic terrorist. They’re willing to entrap you, use your private life against you, and spy on you as long or as intrusively as they have to in order to stop you from screwing up their control agenda. They have no scruples, no morals, no limits. Don’t underestimate their capability, and don’t for a second assume (see Rule 1) that all the people you work with are solid just because they say they are.

This flows into what I was just talking about with using your gut. Think about it. If you wanted to identify patriots willing to offensively target the government as opposed to those who would DEFEND ourselves against the government, what faster way than to manufacture a situation to draw them out? If you wanted to have an excuse to ramp up the disarming of the citizens, what better way than to manufacture a situation that brings all the ‘crazies’ to the yard?  If there’s a crisis going on, vet everyone involved. Ask questions. Ask for proof. If someone says they have video, ask to see it. If they claim to have screenshots, ask to see them. If they aren’t willing to provide it, or if your gut says something’s not right, pay attention.

  • Go with the flow; use the terrain.
  • Take the natural break of traffic.
  • Maintain a natural pace.
  • Establish a distinctive and dynamic profile and pattern.
  • Stay consistent over time.
  • Vary your pattern and stay within your profile.

These all deal with movement. Don’t drive like a bat out of hell, swerving in and out of lanes to “lose any tails.” Don’t draw attention to yourself. These may look at first glance like they’re contradictory but they aren’t. Notice words like “dynamic” and “consistent.” It doesn’t mean do the same thing every time. It means be consistently dynamic. Be consistently changing, but stay within the profile you’ve created for yourself.

  • Be non threatening: keep them relaxed; mesmerize!
  • Lull them into a sense of complacency.
  • Know the opposition and their terrain intimately.
  • Build in opportunity but use it sparingly.

These are pretty self-explanatory. Know the enemy. Understand how they work. That’s Sun Tzu 101 anyway, and as for the rest, they mean exactly what they say. Don’t run around acting like a crazy person looking for a fight. If your mindset is right, you’re NOT looking to start the fight.

  • Don’t harass the opposition.

This should be pretty near the top. A lot of patriots think that standing up for liberty must include harassment of the opposition. There is a difference, however, between standing and harassing. For a visual of this in action, think about the I Will Not Comply Rally that took place almost exactly a year ago today in WA State. A few thousand people stood: respectfully, resolutely. The attendees cleaned up after themselves, showed respect to the WA State Patrol officers who were there at the Capitol building, and conducted themselves like free men with character. Now contrast that with the Occupy movement. They destroyed every area they took up residence in, desecrated everything they touched, and engaged in violent crime, disrespect of people and property, and general mayhem.The #BlackLivesMatter movement is another example.

One of the cornerstones of being a III% or patriot is character. How do you conduct yourself, not just in your personal life but your online persona as well?

  • Pick the time and place for action.

Don’t allow yourself to get cornered. Don’t let the enemy choose where and how you act—that will trap you into REacting, instead of ACTING. Make a plan, make sure the people involved (and only the people involved) understand the plan, and then execute that plan. This goes for everything from communication plans to bug-out plans to anything else.

In the next segment we’ll take a look at the last half of the expanded list. For now, the takeaways are simple. If you remember nothing else, remember this: Trust your gut. Make plans, and expect them to go wrong. Make backup plans. Conduct yourself with character and integrity.

Educate and empower yourself and others. Resist.

73 Rules of Spycraft for Patriots – Rules 33-40

Happy Monday, Patriots!

Before we get back to Mr. Dulles, I’d like to make a few comments about Thanksgiving.  It’s easy for those of us with our eyes open to give in to negativity and live on the cynical and pessimistic side.  Take a few minutes today to find something to be thankful for, and remember Who to be thankful to.  Are you short on ideas?  Here are a few suggestions:

  • Be thankful that you *are* awake.  You have been given the discernment to know that something is wrong with the world and that you should prepare for the coming storm.
  • Be thankful that you live in the most prosperous nation in the world (addressing my fellow Americans).  Even in decline, opportunity abounds and a wise person can make preperations for the future.
  • Be thankful for the good patriot leaders out there, leading by example and not being braggadocious.
  • We don’t get too preachy here on the blog, but be thankful to the God that gave you life, and died to make things right between you so that life could be eternal.

OK, enough of that.  Everyone else will be doing Thanksgiving posts and I don’t want to pile on too much more :).  Let us return to Dulles’ Rules of Spycraft.  The full article we quote can be found, as always, here.

33. Always be polite to people, but not exaggeratedly so.  With the following class of persons who come to know you – hotel and restaurant staffs, taxi drivers, train personnel, etc., be pleasant.  Someday they may prove useful to you.  Be generous in your tips to them, but again, not exaggeratedly so.  Give just a little more than the other fellow does – unless the cover under which you are working does not permit this.  Give only normal tips, however, to waiters and taxi drivers, etc., when you are on the job.  Don’t give them any stimulus, even of gratification to make you stick in their minds.  Be as brief and casual as possible.

This strikes me as being basic social engineering.  Holmes had his homeless network, and spies surely do similar.  The wise person, based on Dulles’ comments, adjusts their tipping and politeness levels based on their mission; whether ingratiation is preferred, or forgettability.

34. Easiness and confidence do not come readily to all of us.  They must be assiduously cultivated.  Not only because they help us personally, but they also help to produce similar reactions in those we are handling.

35.  Never deal out the intense, the dramatic stuff, to a person before you have quietly obtained his confidence in your levelheadedness.

36. If you’re angling for a man, lead him around to where you want him; put the obvious idea in his head, and make the suggestion of possibilities come to him.  Express, if necessary – but with great tact – a wistful disbelief in the possibilities at which you are aiming.  “How fine it would be if only someone could… but of course, etc. etc.”  And always leave a line of retreat open to yourself.

I believe it’s important for us to not only absorb these lessons in case we need to use them ourselves, but also so that we’re aware if they’re being used on us.  That guy who seems so at ease in his own skin, who has proven himself to you in subtle and not-so-subtle ways, seems to agree with you on everything, and seems to be fishing for you to suggest the next course of action?  He may be exactly what he seems, or he might be playing you.  Proceed with caution, feelers up, and don’t be afraid to cut ties if your spidey-sense is tingling.

37.  Never take a person for granted.  Very seldom judge a person to be above suspicion.  Remember that we live by deceiving others.  Others live by deceiving us.  unless others take persons for granted or believe in them, we would never get our results.  The others have people as clever as we; if they can be taken in, so can we.  Therefore, be suspicious.

38.  Above all, don’t deceive yourself.  Don’t decide that the other person is fit or is all right, because you yourself would like it to be that way.  You are dealing in people’s lives.

It’s really quite tempting, especially for an unaware/untrained person looking for somewhere to belong, to grab hold of a person seemingly like them and follow them anywhere.  Loyalty should be earned over time, not instantly given.

A good friend of mine who is more experienced than I gave their trust to someone too easily.  My friend took this person to be above suspicion, blew off several signs of deception, and therefore maintained a working relationship longer than they should have.  When the deception had reached the point that it could no longer be ignored, the consequences of separating themselves from the toxic situation had escalated as well and could no longer be completed wholly in private.

Recognize that most of us are playing in the shallow end of the pool, here.  If an organization with massive funding targets you, you may not recognize it until it’s too late.  Being aware of your weaknesses is the first step in mitigating them.

39.  When you have made a contact, till you are absolutely sure of your man – and perhaps even then – be a small but eager intermediary.  Have a “They” in the background for whom you act and to whom you are responsible.  If “They” are hardch, if “They” decide to break it off, it is never any fault of yours, and indeed you can pretend to have a personal frievance about it.  “They” are always great gluttons for results and very stingy with cash until “They” get them.  when results come along, “They” always send messages of congratulation and encouragement.

40.  Try to find agents who do not work for money alone, but for conviction.  Remember, however, that not by conviction alone, does the man live.  If they need financial help, give it to them.  And avoid the “woolly” type of idealist, the fellow who lives in the clouds.

There’s not a whole lot of commentary to add other than to continue the theme of putting yourself on the receiving end of these instructions.  If someone were trying to recruit you in this fashion, how would it look?  Do you fit this mold?

I think we’ll cut this segment off there.  The next several rules also talk about how to run agents, and will make a good post on their own.

As always, please post your thoughts in the comments section.  Until next time,

Educate. Empower. Resist.

73 Rules of Spycraft for Patriots – Rules 22-32

[dropcap]H[/dropcap]ello fellow patriots!

What a wild couple of weeks.  This past weekend, as most of you probably know, we had the Sparks31 Communicator Class.  Although the material was a bit advanced for some students, I think everyone came away with some valuable new knowledge and skills.  Most importantly, in my humble opinion, we had the ability to network with the like-minded.  I’m happy to say that everyone acted in an adult fashion and we left both the classroom and the FTX site in very good condition.

I almost thought about canceling this series because Kit’s tradecraft series is a superior read.  If you haven’t started it, you can find it here.  However, because I hate to leave things half done, we shall persevere :).

The full piece on we’re quoting from is available here.  I’m merely offering my commentary on the patriot’s perspective of these, from an “interested layman” level of knowledge.  If you have a different or more experienced take, you’re welcome to add your thoughts to the comments section.  Here we go…

Continue reading “73 Rules of Spycraft for Patriots – Rules 22-32”