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Part 7: Internet crimes & Background Vetting for HR using OSINT tools and sites

The internet provides huge quantities of information, free of cost, if you know where to look.

Open source information is available to internet users and thus may not breach the

individuals privacy since they have put this information willingly open to the general public. In the previous articles, we have understood how important using the right search techniques and keywords are in any investigation. Today, the internet is available at high speed globally, on the contrary the threat via the internet is equally high.

Unfortunately, internet crime is under reported, rarely investigated and rarely tried. Websites, blog pages, communities and chat groups have become hubs where organized criminal groups operate and communicate. An example of an internet facilitated crime would be illicit pharmaceutical companies selling branded medicines on discounted price online.

For consumers to identify the authenticity of these types of e-commerce businesses is very bleak, they cannot easily determine counterfeit products and/or illicit business websites. What kind of conspiracies emerge online or use the internet as a media to communicate.

  • Child exploitation

  • Identity thefts

  • Sale of counterfeit goods

  • Extremist group activities

  • Terrorist activities

  • Intellectual property theft

  • Data theft

  • DDoS attack or malicious codes

  • Drug trafficking

Other examples stem from: websites that host auction sales of stolen debit and credit cards online, downloadable movies and songs from Torrent sites, the apprehension of free Intellectual Properties where copyright violations are done for commercial and personal use (Edward J Apple, 2011). 

Background verification can save you and your company from hiring dangerous individuals. It verifies that the employees are not wanted internationally and are true to what they present themselves as. Your employee may be a potential threat as well as one of the illicit sellers who misuse the internet and commits cyber-crime. 

Background vetting of employees using OSINT tools

“Vetting allows an employer to consider facts and observations to make a decision.”

The networked generation of today, is more likely to use the internet during and after work hours. Most of the employees when hired are immediately given access to the company’s IT systems.

Thus, it is crucial to be sure about the candidate’s background. When an employee has a past history of misbehavior, public opinions on issues that may bring disrepute to the company or a criminal history facilitated by the internet/ misuse, the employer will be best suggestive whether to hire or not.

OSINT is useful in providing cost-effective techniques for HR’s to see for themselves. With a derogative background investigation of a candidate can help the employer understand the seriousness of the individual, frequency and repetition of his/ her activities and access skills and values they bring in. Social media sites where background checks are usually conducted include Facebook and LinkedIn.

Tools useful for hiring managers: 

Table 5: OSINT tools for hiring managers (i-sight, 2016) Geo-location search tools:

Table 6: OSINT tools to conduct Geo-location search (i-sight, 2016) Very important OSINT tools for all investigation related purposes:

  1. Google Dorks helps the investigator to target his search in an efficient way, it displays the results in an orderly fashion. Also called as Google Hacking Database.

  2. Shodhan is a search engine mainly preferred by hackers. It provides information regarding the digital assets that have been connected to a network for example laptops, webcams and other IoT devices.

  3. Maltego has the ability to collect information from various sources and merge them together in the form of graphs and reports.

How can hiring managers use OSINT to conduct background check? Imagine a situation where there are 3 candidates shortlisted for an elite cyber security position in your organization.

Person A called Malvika has mentioned that she has studied from Cranfield University, how do you verify the integrity of this information? On the other hand, person B called Neha claims four publications under her name, how will you check if the publications are for real and not plagiarised? Person C, Noopur is located in USA and has applied for this position in India.

How will you check the IP address and verify the applicant’s location? Now that you know the areas where OSINT investigations are useful, why not try some interesting websites and see what results you get. Can you find any blacklisted candidates from previous companies? I am sure, you wouldn’t want to hire them for this position. Note: If you have missed the previous articles, head to the 'featured' section on my LinkedIn profile If you like them, like-share-comment & endorse!

References: Edward J Apple (2011) Internet Searches for Vetting, Investigations, and Open-Source Intelligence. Florida, USA: CRC Press. i-sight (2016) Robust Case Management Software & Multi-Industry Investigation Solutions | i-Sight., 2016 Available at: (Accessed: 5 June 2020).

Published by

Dr Malvika Mehta (ACSFS) (MSc) (BAMS) Forensic Investigator, Consultant, Trainer & Independant Expert Witness, OSINT specialist, Forensics course designer

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