Open Source Intelligence (OSINT): Tracking the User Across Multiple Platforms with Usersearch

Guest Post : Reference hackers-arise.com

Welcome back, my aspiring OSINT investigators!

One of my favorite and most effective ways of tracking an individual is through their username. Very often, people will reuse a username or pseudonym across both anonymous and public platforms. In addition, by finding their username on another platform you may be able to recover their password (or a variant of their password) if that platform has been dumped into the many password dumps on the dark web.

Social networking sites can also be a treasure trove of information about the individual that can be an excellent resource for finding their whereabouts or social engineering them.

In a previous tutorial, I showed you how to use free and open source Linux tool in Kali built into recon-ng. In this tutorial, we will look at a much easier to use tool available to anyone with a browser, usersearch.org.

Step #1 Open a Browser on Any Platform

To begin, open a browser on any platform and navigate to usersearch.org.

Usersearch has multiple types of searches including;

  1. Social Networks
  2. Social Networks (Advanced 1)
  3. Social Networks (Advanced 2)
  4. Social Networks (Advanced 3)
  5. Dating Sites
  6. Email Search
  7. Phone Search
  8. Crypto Forums

Step #2: Social Networks Search

Let’s try some searches on the embattled US Congressional Representative from Florida, Matt Gaetz (remember, Gaetz is under federal investigation for sex trafficking and having sex with a minor). Maybe we can help the US Justice Department find some interesting accounts in Mr. Gaetz’s name that might assist their investigation of his shady life.

The first step is to enter the username into the top window labelled “Search Username”. Next, simply click the magnifying glass icon to begin your search.

As you can see above, mattagetz is a username on several popular social networking sites including Etsy, YouTube and Reddit. You can then click on the View Profile button to the right and it will take you directly to that account. Let’s click through to Mr. Gaetz Reddit profile.

Looks like Mr. Gaetz may not be the exemplar of family values that he so often extolls.

Step #2: Search Additional Social Networking Sites

One of the unfortunate features of usersearch is that NOT all the social networking sites are searched with a single click. Likely the developers were concerned about the time it takes to return results from all the sites in a single search and instead broke out the sites into separate buttons.

Let’s search for mattgaetz at Social Networks (Adv 1). Like before,

This search found even more accounts with the username matttgaetz.

Step #3: Dating Sites

People often come to us to research a suspected cheating spouse. In the 21st century, most people are finding dates online. Usersearch can help with this type of investigation as well. Note at the bottom of the home page where it lists all the alternative type of searches. Click on the dating sites button, enter the username and click on the magnifying glass. We did this for Congressman Matt Gaetz.

Looks like Mr. Gaetz has registered with at least 2 sites looking for dates (I wonder if his wife knows?).

Unfortunately, I found the email search and phone number search less than optimal.

Step #4: Usersearch.io Advanced Search

Recently, the developers at Usersearch.org have opened a new service with even more data and tools and called it usersearch.io. Unlike usersearch.org, this is a pay for service, currently in its alpha stage of development. The developers are offering this enhanced version of usersearch.io for just $5.99/month and guaranteeing that you will never pay more than your original subscription price.

The opening screen looks a bit different from userserach.org. You will need to open an account for Members Only, presently priced at $5.99 per month.

Once you join and click on the Members Only tab, you are taken to the menu system as seen below. Note that there are here 7 Social Networking searches. Each one searches through 65 social networking sites in descending order of their popularity.

Let’s try our good friend, Matt Gaetz, on this new advanced usersearch site. Click on the “Social Networks Search (Group 1)” and enter the target username and click.

As you can see below, the results on the Advanced usersearch are more complete. I also prefer the cleaner user interface of this advanced site.

When we use the Social Networking Search (Advanced Group 2), usersearch.io finds additional sites with the same username, in this case, photobucket and pinterest.

Like the free usersearch.org, usersearch.io has a Dating Site search. Here when we searched our favorite congressman again and it returned the 2 same dating sites as usersearch.org.

Unfortunately, the Email Search feature is still under development (this is, afterall, a alpha site).

Finally, the developers have added a new Adult sites search . Click on the “Dating & Adult” menu choice and Select “Adult Entertainment Search”.

Next, enter the username. In our case, mattgaetz.

It appears that this bastion of family values is also a registered user of the porn site, XVideos.

Summary

When conducting an investigation of a person, it is often the first step to find their profile on social networking sites. These sites scan reveal a boatload of information about the individual that may reveal their interests and friends/associates (useful in social engineering). In some cases, it can even reveal their true identity in cases where the target is sloppy enough to use the same username across multiple profiles (yes, it happens). Keep in mind, though, that different people may be using the same username.

Usersearch.org and usersearch.io are excellent resources that every OSINT investigator can utilize. The minimal Member fee of $5.99 per month at usersearch.io is certainly money well spent, considering its rapidly expanding capabilities.

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