By Rachel Kronenfeld, Hg’s Manager of Investigations
Millions of conversations are happening daily online, potentially regarding the individuals, companies, or brands you, the investigative professional, are working to protect. The rapid increase in the use of social media and other online platforms to share information has already grabbed the attention of the majority of security, intelligence, or brand reputation teams. There is an overall consensus that current awareness and monitoring are vital components of any research or security process.
Current awareness and monitoring tools help aggregate and filter large amounts of information to present the content being sought in a short amount of time. Today’s current awareness tools are capable of aggregating a number of social networks, blogs, traditional media, paste bins, and even Dark Web conversations. Once only a few companies in the market, these now number in the hundreds—each with its own unique strengths. Several before them have failed to keep up with rapidly changing technology and privacy laws surrounding the information legally accessible online.
In this three-part blog series, we review three fee-based tools on the market today: Echosec, LifeRaft Navigator, and Dataminr. These reviews are based on actual Hg case studies that include monitoring a sensitive protest, a company’s event, and their executive team or brand reputation in the same month. We can say from experience where these products deliver, how easy they are to use, and how each is growing. For the review, we also interviewed account executives from some of these companies, to hear what they consider to be the strengths and opportunities lying ahead of them.
This week, we focus our attention on Echosec.
Based in Victoria, BC, Canada, Echosec has a large amount of data providers across a diverse set of platforms. A quick search can be performed by location, username, key word, or data type. The quick search is great for breaking news. Echosec’s advanced search is fast and user friendly, generating a combination of Boolean and logic for you such as a keyword within a location or a username within a location.
Echosec’s map view generates a clear picture of the activity coming from a particular location. Beyond regional tags, you can further filter by content that has only a precise geotag. Several tools on the market using geo-location-based searching have an Open Street View map. Echo- sec has additional map layers including ESRI word topography and satellite maps. Satellite maps have proved useful in several cases, e.g., where we need to see what a building or the surrounding area, in general, looks like to report the information to our client. (Yes, you could use Google satellite view, but it takes time. Analysts often cannot wait when dealing with a time-sensitive issue.)
Once a quick search is saved, keyword filters can be applied. Using the Must Include and the Must Not Include options will give more accurate results. For example, if you are saving a search using your executive’s name and the word “shoot,” you may notice you are receiving results for someone with your executive’s name who just did a photo shoot. By choosing to exclude the word photo, you are filtering out unnecessary noise. Another unique feature is Filter By Object. Using this feature can be valuable, e.g., someone may not say the word “gun,” but may have posted a photo of a gun. Echosec’s strengths for brand reputation include the ability to filter posts by date, popular hashtags, or words most used.
For effective current awareness, notification settings are an important component. Echosec allows you or your team members to be notified by email when you save a search and add alert filters. Email notifications contain the necessary content you need, plus the direct link back into Echosec or to the original post for quick access.
Echosec has made it clear that they are here to stay, having a strong partnership with their providers and paying careful attention to privacy policies. According to company sources, in the next two years, Echosec intends to expand their Artificial Intelligence capacity: The company is currently working on an A.I. Pattern Recognition and Source Deception project and is focused on being the leader in Predictive Intelligence for Security and Business Intelligence.
Check in next week, when we review LifeRaft Navigator.
Are you an analyst or investigator looking for advanced training on Echosec and other current awareness and monitoring tools? If so, check out Hg’s webinar series, where you can attend live sessions and receive CEUs or watch previously recorded sessions to beef up your OSINT skills.
Are you in need of current awareness and monitoring for your company’s executive officers, your brand, or your reputation? At Hg, we are experts in scanning social media platforms, surface, deep, and Dark Web mentions of personal identifiers, your brand, and intellectual property to keep you safe from online predators, protesters, and hackers. Learn how our team can help you mitigate risk at home and abroad.
Rachel Kronenfeld joined Hetherington Group in 2016 and is Hg’s Manager of Investigations and lead investigator. As a skilled and diverse analyst, she monitors current events and information on the Internet, identifies security threats, and conducts online risk assessment analyses for Hg’s clients. Ms. Kronenfeld conducts trainings for investigators and is a contributing writer to Hg’s newsletter, Data2Know. Her professional research specialty is Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) techniques.