To understand more about the nature of cybercrime investigations, let’s first define what cybercrime is. Cybercrime is any crime where a computer or online device is the object of the crime or is used as a tool to commit an offense. Once threat actors access a computer or online device, they can encrypt data for ransom, steal and sell confidential information, sabotage the compromised network, or do other criminal activities.
Once a breach or cyberattack is detected, a cyber crime investigation is launched. Such an investigation consists of the process of investigating, analyzing, and recovering forensic data for digital evidence of a crime. When investigating a cybercrime, the investigator first has to assess the situation by determining the specific elements of the crime. Due to the nature and scope of cybercrimes, the internet is a useful resource to determine the “who”, “what”, “where”, “when”, “why”, and “how”.
First, the investigator needs to find out who the threat actor suspected of committing the crime is and if he is part of a crime organization or international network. The next step is identifying the type of cybercrime. This is also important for determining if multiple jurisdictions are involved due to the cross-border planning and execution of e.g., ransomware attacks, human trafficking, and terrorist activities. Next, the investigator needs to decide on the digital forensic tools to use in their cyber investigations for detecting, collecting, and processing relevant data and information.
When selecting their digital forensic tools, the investigators need to make sure that the evidence will hold up in court. The use of open source intelligence (OSINT) ensures that the collected, analyzed, and disseminated data is produced from publicly available information in a timely manner and for a specific purpose e.g., for investigating a human trafficking ring. That’s why it is important to use only OSINT tools online when collecting data from the surface, deep, and dark web intelligence gathering.
Open source intelligence is often used in combination with other intelligence subtypes, such as open source threat intelligence. Such use includes identifying external threats by identifying which new vulnerabilities are being actively exploited by which threat actor or by “eavesdropping” on online chatter about an upcoming attack. Such open-source intelligence enables security professionals to prioritize their time and resources to address the most significant current, imminent, and future threats.
Let’s now take a closer look at the cyber threat intelligence tools that investigators need for their investigations. Cyber investigations require a lot of manpower and time when conducted without the help of digital tools. That’s why the use of an open source intelligence platform (such as the AI-powered WEBINT platform of Cobwebs) for automated intelligence on potential and imminent cyber threats is so important. It allows investigators to use open source intelligence software that does not only helps detecting cyberattacks in real-time but also has cyber threat monitoring capabilities to identify emerging cyber threats targeting e.g., critical infrastructures, .government and intelligence agencies, research facilities, and enterprises.
Apart from detecting, analyzing, and monitoring threats and risks, an open source intelligence platform should also utilize predictive analytics and machine-learning algorithms to collect and analyze big data to get comprehensive insights for e.g., cyber threat monitoring. Furthermore, Natural Language Processing (NLP) algorithms allows investigators to get insight into the sentiments and intentions of threat actors in multiple languages, which is essential for cross-border investigations.
To learn why and how an open source intelligence platform should be part of an investigators digital forensic toolset to identify and prevent cyberattacks, schedule a demo!