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Image Hosting Site OSINT Investigation Tips & Techniques

Image hosting sites are platforms that enable users to upload and host images on the Internet easily. Once uploaded, the images are “hosted” publicly, meaning owners and the general public can access them online.

This is an introduction to OSINT Investigations on image hosting sites. To view the full webinar and handout, which includes advanced techniques and analysis, click here.

Flickr

Flickr is an image and video hosting platform and online community, founded in Canada and headquartered in the United States. Founded in 2004, Flickr is a popular platform for amateur and professional photographers to host high-resolution photos and has over 112 million monthly users. To access Flickr, go to https://www.flickr.com/.

 

Post Search - https://www.flickr.com/search/?text=topic

Flickr posts can be searched using the inbuilt search bar at the top of the page or through URL manipulation. When using URL manipulation, edit the word ‘topic’ https://www.flickr.com/search/?text=topic to the required keyword, such as https://www.flickr.com/search/?text=OSINT.

 

Person Search - https://www.flickr.com/search/people/?username=name

Flickr users can be searched using the inbuilt search bar at the top of the page or through URL manipulation. When using URL manipulation, edit the word ‘topic’ https://www.flickr.com/search/people/?username=name to the required keyword, such as https://www.flickr.com/search/people/?username=john.

 

Group Search - https://www.flickr.com/search/groups/?text=topic

Flickr users can be searched using the inbuilt search bar at the top of the page or through URL manipulation. When using URL manipulation, edit the word ‘topic’ https://www.flickr.com/search/groups/?text=topic to the required keyword, such as https://www.flickr.com/search/groups/?text=intelligence.

 

 

Flickr API - https://www.flickr.com/services/api/

Using the Flickr API, investigators can extract data from the Flickr platform that is unavailable to core Flickr users. To search Flickr accounts for those registered to a specific email address, navigate to https://flickr.com/services/api/.

 

Locate flickr.people.findByEmail in the people list or go directly to https://www.flickr.com/services/api/flickr.people.findByEmail.html.

 

Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on "API Explorer : flickr.people.findByEmail". 

 

Enter the subject’s email address in the find_email value field and click on the "Call method" button. The results will populate below.

 

 

To view the profile of the identified user, copy the user ID from the results and paste it into the URL https://flickr.com/people/USERID whilst changing ‘USERID’ to the user’s unique ID number, such as https://www.flickr.com/people/87101764@N00.

 

Flickr Map - https://www.flickr.com/map/

Flickr Map is a tool that enables investigators to view publicly available images posted by Flickr users that have geotagging enabled.

 

Investigators can navigate to a specific location on the map manually or utilize coordinates and URL manipulation, by replacing the coordinates in the following URL, https://www.flickr.com/map/?fLat=38.897778&fLon=-77.036389&zl=5.

 

Investigators can search for images of specific objects, locations, or events, by clicking the ‘Search the map’ button. Enter an object in the ‘Search for’ field and a location name in the ‘Taken in’ field and hit the ‘Go’ button.

 

Flickr Places - https://www.flickr.com/places/ 

Flickr Places is a tool that enables investigators to search for public content within a specific geographic region.

 

To use Flickr places, enter a location name in the ‘Find a place’ search bar in the right-hand corner of the page, hit the ‘Search’ button, and select the correct option from the drop-down list. 

 

A new page will load which shows the selected region. Results will include a map, interesting images from the location, recent images from the location, a list of featured photographers, and groups about the location.


This is an introduction to OSINT Investigations on image hosting sites. To view the full webinar and handout, which includes advanced techniques and analysis, click here.

 

Automating your Investigations on Image Hosting Sites

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