Wed. Jun 29th, 2022

Picture forensics is an interesting field, one with rapid growth within the online investigator world. Why? with the right set of skills, you can track a person to the exact spot anywhere in the world, where that picture was taken. Sometimes, you can do this within minutes (if you are lucky!).

Investigating a crime is not an easy job, especially investigating pictures to detect and analyze situations. Sometimes, it becomes essential to reach the original location of the picture where it was first captured. A digital image can be picked up anywhere, but how can you track the original or detect fakes?

The analysis of pictures to determine the authenticity and original source is known as picture forensics.  An emerging OSINT skill trend for online investigators.
The analysis of pictures to determine the authenticity and original source is known as picture forensics. An emerging OSINT skill trend for online investigators.

Reverse image searching is now found in almost every search engine as default. In this article, we will discuss the basics of picture analysis investigations, facial recognition tools, and image forensic analysis techniques for online investigators.

Picture Investigations 101

Investigation of a picture is not a complex task if done right, using the right tools and knowing what your objectives are.

Getting Started with Image Forensics

When we are just getting started with picture forensics or investigation, the most credible and commonly used search engine that pops up in our minds is Google. The standard search engine. To search for an image on this search engine, move to the Images section of the search engine. Now upload an image from either the computer by tapping on the small camera icon. Alternatively, you can even use an image URL to search for it.

Upon entering any picture in the search engine, Google will automatically associate a personal keyword with that picture. If you try to modify that keyword by yourself, the results will also be modified. In the same way, keywords can also be changed or modified to obtain better direct results. Then Google will provide a single result to your search image and also show a list of visually identical pictures according to its own understanding. Amidst all, you can often find the original source of your picture even if the exact same picture results are not provided.

Reverse Image searching is built by using neural networks to detect slight pixel changes and similarities between pictures.
Reverse Image searching is built by using neural networks to detect slight pixel changes and similarities between pictures.

Know Your Neighborhood

It is essential to know your neighborhood when it comes to image searching, digital image forensics, or picture forensics. For basic image search, there are more search engines than just Google. From Yahoo, Bing, and Baidu to Yandex, you can use any search engine to search up an image digitally.

Other than this, you can also use some search tools if you are looking for an advanced image analysis process. Advanced image search options also allow you to jump forward or backward in time, search by website, color limit, or country domains. You can get help from a translator to search for images from other countries. Not only this, but you can also depict geolocations from image search.

Top reverse image tools online that you can use.
Top reverse image tools online that you can use.

Not only this but knowing your neighborhood through image search can also allow you to use different methods. It facilitates analyzing the image and metadata and verifying the image to downloading and conducting a reverse image search.

Facial Recognition Forensics

Facial recognition allows you to find someone by image or recognize a human face on any computer device. This system uses biometric systems to analyze and deconstruct facial features from any video or photograph. The facial features constructed out of the photograph or video are then used to match known faces in the database. It then helps find something of a match. While facial recognition is one of the best ways to identify any person. Though, it is also a breach of personal privacy and raises security concerns.

Dural networks detect points on a face known to be unique to a person's face.  By comparing those positions with other pictures, a face can quickly become detected.
Dural networks detect points on a face known to be unique to a person’s face. By comparing those positions with other pictures, a face can quickly become detected.

Facial recognition is a huge market, which is likely to grow by $ 7.7 billion in the year 2020. This is mainly because the use of facial recognition has become highly commercialized. Also, marketers can use it for any marketing purpose, even surveillance. The usage of facial recognition is in many commercial applications as well. However, many people are still concerned about security issues and personal information breaches because of these facial recognition applications.

Azure Face API Recognition Tool

One of the most commonly used and famous facial recognition tools is the Window Azure API Recognition tool. This one is an advanced facial recognition tool that allows verifying a facial identity and controlling ready-for-scale recognition access. It is an immensely easy-to-use tool that allows the easy addition of facial recognition to any app using a single API call. This tool also protects personal privacy as it does not save images. Besides, this tool comes with built-in privacy control that allows a certain degree of security to an individual’s data.

Amazon Facial Recognition Tool

Amazon Facial Recognition tool is yet another famous and highly efficient facial recognition tool used and trusted by many worldwide. This tool allows an immensely smooth and efficient way of extracting insights and information from images and videos. Interestingly, this picture analysis tool also comes with customizable and pre-trained CV capabilities. You can use this tool to verify identity on online platforms and detect inappropriate content. Not only this, but you can also send smart alerts about the connected home and streamline media analysis. 

Deepwater Facial Recognition Tool

Deepwater facial recognition tool is another highly trusted, effective, and efficient facial recognition tool that many people use worldwide. This tool allows AI to meet humanity halfway, a technological interference to the activities of humanity. This tool is a highly advanced one that recognizes everything from modified pictures and runs full-body synthesis. It helps find the original location of the picture in question. This is because it runs full-body swaps to search images amongst a vast database. Not only this, but it runs many more features like colonizing the voice of a human. Synthesizing a human’s entire body in an image or video. As well as detecting any body movements missed or deleted from the visual data.

Advanced Picture Analysis

An image or video is the best way to capture any moment in time. Image depicts a circumstance or situation’s visual perception. With the help of advanced technology like Computer Vision (CV) or AI, you can now easily analyze an image’s components. These components are then used for many applications at hand. The tools or methods of advanced image analysis make it easy to detect faces or objects in an image.

Advanced picture analysis uses convolutional neural networks from machine learning models. These networks help detect, analyze, and search for faces present in an image. Other than that, other methods of advanced picture forensics include optical character recognition. This tool allows the extraction and analysis of text present in the questioned image.

The crux of the story is that advanced image forensics and its techniques have made the classification of images according to their content quite efficient and easy.

Most Common Types of Image Forensics Analysis

Sometimes, you need to really dig into the pixels of an image, to get what you’re looking for. Historically, you needed complex and expensive photo analysis tools. And..you still do but minus the expensive part. Also, the complexity is now handled by the tool, rather than the person. Most advanced analysis tools for pictures are now free and turned into a web application (check out fotoForensics.com)

Error Level Analysis

Error level analysis is one of the most common types of image forensics analysis. This method helps you in the process of image analysis to identify any particular portions of a picture or video that have different compression levels than other regions of the image. You will find this technique in many image forensic and analysis tools. This technique depicts whether a digital visual has undergone modification or changes. It detects modifications or changes by identifying regions with different compression levels than the rest of the image. This technique is better fully understood by the comprehensive understanding of the JPEG compression technique.

Noise Analysis

Another method to detect tampered images or modifications in a digital visual is noise analysis. This method helps detect any inconsistencies in the noisiness of the image. You all must have seen some noise level in every image captured by any kind of camera. While for the photographers, this noise is not a very favorable component of the picture. Nevertheless, you can use this method to detect modifications and tempering in images and help in image forensics and analysis. This technique analyzes a photograph’s noise and detects any inconsistencies if found. With this noise data analysis of the actual image, you can point out any kind of modifications in a picture.

Level Sweep

Another method that you can use in the process of image forensics analysis is Level Sweep. This method consists of a sweep throughout the image level. It detects any changed errors, noises, or any tampered and modified regions of the image.

Luminance Gradient

Other than those, another highly efficient and effective method of image forensics analysis is luminance gradient. This method includes any changes between the x-axis and y-axis of the image in question. This method aims to detect any abnormalities and modifications or changes in an image. It also compares different parts of the image with each other.

Principal Component Analysis

A more statistical approach or method used in the process of image forensics analysis is the principal component analysis. This method or procedure includes an orthogonal transformation. This is called principal components and uses to convert or transform possibly correlated variables of a set of observations into liner uncorrelated variables set of values.

String Extraction

This is yet another method, process, or even a tool in the process of image forensics analysis. It includes searching digital evidence through indexing or matching algorithms. You can carry out this procedure at the physical level of the image and locates any possible text strings that are specific. This is a highly efficient and effective method that results in efficient findings of all instances of the text string.

Limitations of Image Forensics

While image forensics has many advantages, they also have many disadvantages at hand. Some of those disadvantages or limitations we can discuss right now are as follows:

  • While image forensics are accepted inside the courtroom of a criminal investigation, it’s not the easiest to justify the forensic results without the tools manually.
  • If picture forensics itself is not a costly affair, procuring and storing them can be. If you desire to obtain accurate results in image forensics, it is essential to use image forensic tools that are accurate and honest. Producing these image forensic records and storing them is yet another costly affair that many people cannot afford.
  • The legal practitioners or investigators who get these proofs or image forensic data must have deep knowledge of computer programs. They must possess the technical knowledge to read these results as well. Otherwise, not everyone can understand these results.
  • Make sure that the evidence is the most credible that you offer to the practitioner or present in the courtroom.
  • The tools used to obtain that image forensic evidence must be according to the law’s specific standards. Otherwise, the justice system can disapprove of the evidence once and for all.
  • The technical investigator must also have deep technical knowledge if he wants to procure desired and authentic results.

Reverse Searching

Advanced image or picture forensics, or we can also say picture investigation systems supported by technology, are continuously breaking the barriers and paving the way. The recent and emerging trends and techniques used in picture investigation or image forensics analysis make a commoner’s life easier by the day. Many industries can now use many emerging or soon-to-be image forensics or picture investigation models.

By AndrewJ