SANS Digital Forensics and Incident Response Blog

People Searches

In the course of assisting corporations with their incident response activities, we are occasionally asked to help find information about employees that might reside on the internet. During a computer exam for an employee threats case, we found activity on Facebook, Twitter, and two different webmail accounts. We captured the public facing social media pages and included them as part of our exam report.

While this is nowhere near new territory, it may be useful to compile a quick hit list of websites to quickly and efficiently build a profile of an individual's social media and internet use. In our case, if the person of interest made public threats outside the business as well as the private threats that occurred inside the business, we needed to find them as quickly as possible and make sure we had them documented.

Here are some good places to start your search:

Social Media

Free People Search

Paid People Search

  • Intelius (there are many, but this one is one of the best)

Reverse Phone Number Search

The argument can be made that this type of search is outside the realm of a forensic exam, but it is still worth knowing about these sites and where they receive their information. Most of these sites have options for having your personal information removed, but there are many hoops to jump through. It may be worth starting with a site like Intelius as it feeds information to some of the other free sites. You'll never be able to remove all your information, but it might be worth a try. After you've built a few profiles on people, it makes you think twice about what type of profile someone might be able to build on you.

Matt Churchill currently manages the digital forensics practice at Continuum Worldwide and has earned the GCFA, CFCE, CCE, and CISSP certifications. Follow him on Twitter and expect more posts as he tries to earn the SANS Lethal Forensicator Coin!


Posted July 6, 2010 at 4:12 PM | Permalink | Reply

Hal Pomeranz

LiveJournal can also be a useful source of information. Also, depending on the location of your case or your suspects, there may be country-specific social media sites that you should investigate (e.g. Orkut, which didn't make it so big in the US, but was quite popular in certain South American countries).

Posted July 6, 2010 at 5:41 PM | Permalink | Reply

Alex W

Funny you mentioned Spokeo ''" they might be under fire from FTC for peddling inaccurate information and violating consumer protection laws, this was just recently all over the interwebs

Posted July 8, 2010 at 4:17 PM | Permalink | Reply


I wrote an article using some of these services to discover personal information about a spammer. Through the use of these services I wound up getting his social security number.
Pretty informative, check it out.

Posted July 15, 2010 at 8:08 AM | Permalink | Reply


One can tweak the social network sites and easily remove all of his or her information from the other websites.

Posted July 25, 2010 at 1:20 AM | Permalink | Reply


I can imagine the FBI monitor these sites for activity of those in question. I've heard of folk being terminated from their jobs due to their activity on social networks. Nice list of searches. For another free search please check my website which I posted. There is a link to yet another free search.
Thank You!
Nikki D. Felder