The Privacy, Security, & OSINT Show – Episode 112

Posted on February 22nd, 2019

EPISODE 112: Privacy Lessons from the Road

This week I discuss some lessons learned when attempting anonymous travel, the most recent privacy related news, Facebook’s search changes, and a site that generates photos of people who do not exist.

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Data Removal Workbook:

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New Email Search Tool for Offense & Defense

Posted on February 4th, 2019

I have always maintained an Email Search Tool as part of my set of online investigation tools at This month, a series of reports about a huge new set of data breaches emerged and created unnecessary panic. While there truly was a new public database released containing hundreds of millions of email addresses and passwords, the vast majority was old data which had surfaced several years prior. Regardless, it was a good reminder that we should be diligent about checking our own email accounts against the various online repositories that possess most of the public leaks/breaches/data dumps being abused by amateur criminals. Investigators should also take advantage of this information as part of every email investigation. Recently, I made several changes to the Email Search Tool as seen below.

In this example, I entered a test email address and chose the “Populate All” option. The following details explain the first six options, which are the most lucrative.

Breaches/Leaks: This tool queries the HIBP API and presents the results in the window to the right. In this example, you can see that the test email is present within numerous data breaches. The OFFENSE of this is to identify the various online accounts in use by your target. The DEFENSE is to identify your own accounts with exposed passwords and change them anywhere they have been used.

Pastes: This queries the HIBP Pastebin API and identifies email addresses that have appeared on, which is often used to store user credentials.

PSBDMP: This queries the PSBDMP collection of pastebin scrapes, which identifies email addresses that have appeared on, even if they have been removed or were never indexed by Google. The results display in the window to the right, and I have added the complete URL of each entry for further investigation. (Thanks to Justin Seitz for fixing my pathetic PHP attempt on this). This has been a huge help with my investigations. A sample entry with the dates of original capture is below.

Verifier: This opens a new tab and queries the address through the Trumail API. This identifies whether the email address is valid, has a full inbox, is a catch-all, is from a disposable email provider, and other interesting details.

Dehashed: This opens a new tab and queries the free version of, which displays any additional breaches that may not have been captured by the previous attempts. Paid memberships can see the password details.

IntelX: This premium option (with a free trial) also identifies pastebin posts that reference the email address. The free version will tell you that the data exists, the premium (or free trial) will display the content.

I encourage everyone to check their own email addresses on occasion. If you appear within any of these data sets, you know that an account has likely been compromised to some extent. Be sure to change those passwords to something secure, unique, and preferably randomly generated by a password manager (I use KeepassXC).

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The Privacy, Security, & OSINT Show – Episode 110

Posted on February 1st, 2019

EPISODE 110: Testing Your Online Security

This week I discuss easy ways to test your VPN, DNS, Browsers, extensions, and custom settings. I also revisit canary tokens as a test of your potential exposure.

Listen to all episodes at

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Data Removal Workbook:

Please submit your listener questions at

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Buscador 2.0 OSINT Virtual Machine Released!

Posted on January 25th, 2019

Buscador is a free Linux Virtual Machine that is pre-configured for online investigators. It was developed by David Westcott and myself, and distributions are maintained at We also released a podcast today about this new release, which can be found at Download links and install instructions can be found at The current build is under 5GB and includes the following resources:

Custom Firefox Browser & Add-Ons
Custom Chrome Browser & Extensions
Tor Browser
Custom Video Manipulation Utilities
Custom Video Download Utility
Google Earth Pro
HTTrack Cloner
Knock Pages
Metadata Anylisation Toolkit
Twitter Exporter
Yubico Utilities

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The Privacy, Security, & OSINT Show – Episode 109

Posted on January 25th, 2019

EPISODE 109: Privacy News & Buscador 2.0 Release

This week I talk about the latest privacy news and David Westcott joins me to announce the official release of the free Buscador OSINT Virtual Machine.

Listen to all episodes at

or Subscribe at:

RSS / iTunes / Google / Stitcher  / Spotify



Silent Pocket:


Latest Breach Discussion:

Chrome Proposes to Eliminate Script Blockers: Ignoring Robots.txt:

Disallow: /
User-agent: archive.org_bot
Disallow: /

MyLife Removal Update:

“Dumb” Blu Ray Players:
Magnavox 4K blu day player

A.I. is Now Watching Us:

China Crowdsourcing Debt Shaming:

OSINT:  Buscador 2.0 Release:

David Westcott:

Buscador 2.0:


Q: When I was in grade school, my parents signed a release allowing the school to publish my full name, school assignments/awards, and picture on their website. Since then, the websites been archived and cannot be removed. Besides that, the school says they wouldn’t remove it anyway since they have a valid release signed. Now, when I search my true name, pictures of me and the school I went to and my hometown and old friends and such are all readily available. Is this something I should be concerned about? Is there anything that can be done to remove it or bury it under disinformation or something?

Q: I’ve been using Lastpass for a few years and have recently started looking into non-cloud options like KeePassXC. I just came across a few services, like LessPass, MasterPassword, and, which take contextual data like the site and your login ID along with a master password to calculate passwords for services. Because of this there is no need to store passwords and you can even generate a password directly from the websites by entering the site, login, and your master password. What are your thoughts on something like this?

Data Removal Workbook:

Please submit your listener questions at

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The Privacy, Security, & OSINT Show – Episode 108

Posted on January 18th, 2019

EPISODE 108: Our TV’s, Doorbells, & Private Messengers Are Spying On Us

This week I discuss the latest smart-home threats and Justin Seitz joins me to talk about how you may be exposing your IP address on instant messengers.

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Smart TV Woes:

Ring Doorbell Issues:

Home Assistance Devices Privacy:

GoDaddy Injecting Data Into Websites:

OSINT:  How To Blow Your Online Cover With URL Previews:

Justin Seitz:

How To Blow Your Online Cover With URL Previews:<


Q: What are the risks of using a dedicated Sudo number for 2FA?
Q: I have a security clearance, and I’m about to have my 10 year re-investigation and am wondering how not having had a physical address other then a Texas PMB service the last 5 years might give me trouble.

Data Removal Workbook:

Please submit your listener questions at

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The Privacy, Security, & OSINT Show – Episode 107

Posted on January 11th, 2019

EPISODE 107: Listener Questions

This week I attempt to answer the most common questions sent from listeners over the past month.

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Silent Pocket:


Cell Phone Data For Sale:

New Training Videos:

Buscador 2.0 BETA:


Should I use a land trust or living rust?
Do you have a template?
Should I buy the land trust training or the book?
How do I find an attorney for this?

NOLO Trust Book:

2017 version:
2019 version:

I am seeing more stores require a fingerprint in order to use a credit card. What do you do in these situations?

I bought my car in cash, Title is in my name. If I transfer title into a trust, as you mentioned on the show, the VIN historical record will still lead to me. Should I just wait until I get a different car?

What do you provide for your address on your credit report? Are you specially updating it to your alternate physical address?

I have found that all financial institutions require that you have a physical address and cannot use a PO Box for the address. I have a PO Box that I signed up for with USPS however as part of their requirements, I cannot use the physical street address for financial purposes. So my question is, how can I prevent my physical address from being used by these financial institutions.

I recently purchased a new car from a local dealer, financing it through the manufacturer. Using the car’s GPS technology, does either the dealer or the finance company or the corporate manufacturer have the ability to track the location of my vehicle?

I searched my name on various people search sites. Some had it, some didn’t. As these are the top 10, should we opt out of these with information we assume they have?
Should we opt-out with information we know they have? Can we assume the top 10 definitely have our information?

For those of us whose jobs require us to have a photo on a website, and where that photo has been used previously in press releases, etc, what are the best strategies for (a) choosing a new photo that has the least chance of being used in image recognition or for other unhelpful purposes; (b) asking news sites etc to remove your picture in prior stories, etc; and (c) getting the photos off Google Images?

What do you do with deleted/deactivated account information? Keep it in your password manager? Dump them onto some like an archive spreadsheet. I’ve got alot of accounts in my password manager and get overwhelmed trying to figure out what to clean out.

Airplane mode disables the cellular modem preventing cell tower triangulation. The GPS modem is still receiving location data. Do iPhones log GPS data and send it back when airplane mode is turned off?


What happened to the FB live map? Any alternative options?

I conduct a lot of online investigations and rely on Google, but I worry about how much privacy I lose. Any suggestions?

I use KeepasXC to store all of my covert account logins for my OSINT work. Having two databases is a pain when I need to access my own data. Any harm in combining all of this into one database as long as it never gets stored online?

I use several social network accounts as part of my covert online investigations. I use Google Voice numbers in order to receive 2FA sms messages to log into the accounts. Two questions: a) Is having the Google Voice app on an iPhone reckless? b) If so, what is the best option to get the messages?

How do I get started in a career in OSINT?

Data Removal Workbook:

Please submit your listener questions at

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Historic Telephone Searching

Posted on January 4th, 2019

We all know there are countless “White Pages” style of telephone number lookup sites that work well for landline numbers. This has had great value over the years, but many people are ditching the landline and only using cell phones in the home. I have always possessed numerous residential telephone book CD-ROMs in case I ever need to go back in time to find an old number or address. These discs are a burden and require a Windows 98 virtual machine. I needed a better option. I recently found three various online resources that possess historic telephone number data associated with landlines dating back to 1994. These three sources happen to allow a URL query with a pure text return, so I put together an automated tool which should help with searching. It is located on the Telephone Tools section of the IntelTechniques Search Tool at Below is an actual example.

Loren Copp, a former pastor and owner of a pizza parlor, was recently found guilty of several child sex crimes near St. Louis. A search on revealed a telephone number of 3144570842. I searched this number through the tool and found the following.

THIS example indicates:

Another person owned the number from approximately 1994 to 1997
Another person owned the number from approximately2002 to 2003
The number was likely unused from 1998 to 2001 and 2007-2013
The number was assigned to our target in 2014
The number was still assigned to our target in 2018

In ANOTHER (unpublished) example, this tool informed me of the following.

My target possessed the number from 1996-2018 (present in tool)
My target changed addresses near 2001 (address changed in listing)
My target was married near 2003 (Spouse added to listing)
My target was divorced near 2014 (name change and spouse removed)
My target moved near 2018 (address changed in listing)

While landline numbers may not be as valuable today as they were in the past, we have a great resource of historical details to take advantage of. There are many small nuggets of valuable information hiding within these old phone-books. Instant availability thanks to the internet make it easy to search, and inexcusable to avoid. Special thanks to Justin Seitz ( for fixing my original PHP mistakes on this tool.

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The Privacy, Security, & OSINT Show – Episode 106

Posted on January 3rd, 2019

EPISODE 106: Blur Breach, Fake Porn, & Domain Histories

This week I discuss the Abine/Blur breach, more fake porn issues for my clients, and revisit the power of domain registration archives for online investigations.

Listen to all episodes at

or Subscribe at:

RSS / iTunes / Google / Stitcher  / Spotify



Pay With Privacy:


Fake Porn Issues
New Data Removal Workbook:





Q: Any thoughts on “click them all” options such as

Q: I see that there are open-source third party email clients for Protonmail and Tutanota. Do you think these are safe and what is the benefit?

Data Removal Workbook:

Please submit your listener questions at

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How To Blow Your Online Cover With URL Previews

Posted on January 3rd, 2019

Originally posted by Justin Seitz on the Hunchly blog (, and used with permission.

URL previews are a nice feature found in most messaging applications. It allows you to paste a URL to a friend or colleague, and have a handy miniature view of the website you are about to view. The downside is that a lot of applications generate these previews without you knowing that it is happening behind the scenes. In some cases this can equate to you disclosing your public IP address in a manner that you likely wouldn’t want. Don’t forget: when you browse to a website your public IP address is exposed. This is just how the Internet works unless you’re using Tor or a VPN to hide it. The difference with URL previews in messaging applications is that you are broadcasting to the website owner that you are discussing the website, as opposed to just browsing to it. This small and subtle change in context is actually quite an important distinction. You’ll see why very shortly…

A Little History

A few years ago I was on a penetration test where I was attempting to spearphish executives at a well known corporation in Europe. They had one of the most brilliant CISOs I had ever met and an absolutely amazing incident response team on staff. After I sent the initial round of phishing emails I was monitoring my command and control server to look for connections from users, anti-virus, or anything else that might indicate that I was either having some success or was about to be caught. After a few hours there was not a lot of activity until my web server received a connection from an IP address that resolved back to Skype. This was a WTF moment for me since my phishing server was brand new and there didn’t seem to be a good reason why a Skype server would be touching it. A few minutes later another hit from a different Skype server. Now I was really pondering what was going on. Then it dawned on me: someone was discussing my command and control system during a Skype chat, and Skype was generating previews of the phishing site I had setup. I performed a couple of quick tests using my own Skype account, and sure enough, I could reproduce the issue easily. I now knew that the incident response team was on to me, and it was time to switch tactics. But this also raised a much larger issue in my mind when it came to online investigations, incident response and running covert online operations.

How Does This Apply to Online Investigations?

There are two viewpoints here: one is from an investigative standpoint and the second is from the standpoint of you running a covert operation through a website. From the investigative standpoint, if you are passing URLs back and forth with a fellow investigator you may end up notifying your target that you are talking about them. This is exactly how I figured out that the incident response team was on to me during my penetration test. You likely don’t want this to happen. The second standpoint is where you are running a website for a covert online operation. You can monitor for these URL previews and determine that someone is discussing your site, potentially letting you know that your ruse is working or that you might be caught out (again, context is important and mission-dependent here). Either way, it is a unique set of behaviours that can be observed that is not general browsing activity.

Test Results from Various Platforms

I did some quick testing of various messaging clients and services. The test was to simply setup a Python web server on a Digital Ocean droplet ($5/month plan is sufficient). The Python web server just printed out the IP address and headers of the connecting client. I also setup a DNS record specific for this testing so that I could try using IP addresses vs. domain names. WhatsApp was the only service tested that responded differently for IP addresses vs. domain names. Every other service was happy to generate previews for an IP address. There was also no difference between using an HTTP vs. HTTPS URL. Here is a summary of findings:


We, like many other companies, live on Slack so this was the first test I performed. Slack was happy to generate URL previews and identified itself with the following User-Agent:

User-Agent: Slackbot-LinkExpanding 1.0 (+

The IP address of the request was from my publicly facing IP address through my office connection in both mobile and desktop versions of Slack.

Apple Messages

So Messages was an interesting test that had some pretty unique behaviours. If you post a link from Messages on your desktop/laptop it will generate the preview directly from your public IP address as can be expected. The user agent shows:

User-Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; Intel Mac OS X 10_11_1) AppleWebKit/601.2.4 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/9.0.1 Safari/601.2.4 facebookexternalhit/1.1 Facebot Twitterbot/1.0

Pretty interesting that you see the Facebot Twitterbot pieces in there but this was actually picked up by a Reddit user as well. Here is where things can be a bit more interesting: if you are sending an SMS phish to a target you can enhance the URL preview experience a little by ensuring you have a file named:


The Messages app will attempt to retrieve this file once it determines that it can successfully reach the target web page. This file will be used in the preview that is generated and could help to entice your target to click the link. It can also be a way of acknowledging the fact that Messages was the application doing the URL preview in the first place.


Wire is pretty interesting. When you post a URL from the app both on desktop and on your mobile phone your public IP address will show up in the logs. However, there are no User-Agent headers that show up. In fact the only header that Wire sends is:

Connection: close

So this in itself is interesting because many of your HTTP clients (browsers, crawlers, bots, etc.) will send additional headers. By Wire stomping out all information this does become a “tell” that perhaps someone is discussing a target site in the Wire application. Further tracking of how often you see this limited set of client headers would have to be done in order to come up with something more statistically relevant than my single observation. Note that in Wire there is a setting in Preferences -> Options called “Create previews for links you send.” If you disable this it will prevent Wire from doing these URL previews. I recommend you do this. Thanks to Michael Bazzell for assistance with this one.


Facebook also announces itself, but it uses Facebook-owned infrastructure to hit the site for a preview. You will see a User-Agent header of:

User-Agent: facebookexternalhit/1.1 (+

It doesn’t use your public IP address but does indicate that someone has posted a link to the target site on their Facebook profile or have sent it via Facebook Messenger. The IP address you see show up will be registered to Facebook so you can use a site like to look it up.


WhatsApp behaves somewhat differently than the other services. It will not honor IP addresses directly but if you type in a domain (and any port) it will attempt to do URL previews. Additionally, it will do continuous requests as you type the URI of the target page as well which generates a lot of traffic. The User-Agent looks like this:

User-Agent: WhatsApp/0.3.1649 N

The request comes from your public IP address.

Services That Didn’t Generate Previews

There were some services that didn’t generate any previews or traffic when pasting links, or typing URLs. Of course you should test this yourself to verify.

Signal (Desktop/Mobile)
Skype (Desktop/Mobile)
Sudo (Mobile)
Threema (Mobile)
Twitter DM (Mobile/Web)
Wickr (Desktop)

All of the mobile testing was done on an iPhone X so there may be differences with Android that aren’t covered here. There are probably a ton of other messaging apps out there that you could test, and you absolutely should. Feel free to let me know and I can update this post with your results.


There are a few things you can do to help mitigate the risk:

Defang your URLs — This is simply the method where you replace the dots and colons with other characters, or use brackets. An example could be:


Defanged: hxxps://www[.]hunch[.]ly

Use a VPN — this is a secondary suggestion really as it is isn’t mitigating the original problem but for the services that are spitting out your public IP address this will at least obscure it.

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