Online Postings Carry Hidden Clues


Search Engines Web notes an AP Article says with basic tools and skills, Internet sleuths can learn much from Web sites and online discussion boards beyond what terror groups and their sympathizers may be saying in the open.
Jimmy Doyle, a former computer crimes investigator with the New York Police Department, listed a few tools he considers part of Computer Crime Investigator 101.


Wow, tracerouting and whois queries make up a part of the computer crime fighter's toolbox, who'd have thunk it?

Problem is that they belong in any black hat hacker's toolbox too.

I don't know, I'm sure the article was aimed at people not completely familiar with how computers and the Internet works, but telling me that two tools for use in computer crime fighting are tracerouting and whois is like telling me that you might want to have a hammer and some nails to build a house.

Tracerouting is a standard method of obtaining information for both white and black hats, but for different reasons. See for a white hat, you can trace crackers. For a black hat, you can verify connectivity between systems and possibly exploit those systems for other gains.

Meanwhile whois queries are sketchy little things that are rapidly losing their usefulness. For those who don't know, a whois query can get you personal information about things like who registered a domain, what their contact information is, etc. This is useful for social engineering tactics and pretending to be something you're not. However, whois information has a habit of being out of date. Additionally there's talk and work going on in ICANN to limit whois information and what it provides. (Of course Rumsfeld, Ashcroft, and Ridge will all say that this helps the terrorists without having the slightest clue that a decent whois query could help the terrorists far more.)

Sorry to complain, but I give the article a big two thumbs down its throat. If for no other reason than making a big deal out of two tools that are quite literally available to anyone with an operating system. After all, anyone can buy and use a hammer and chisel. But it takes skill and talent to carve the statue of David.

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