Case Study: How Berlin Risk use Videris to scope, analyse and present open source data quickly and accurately
By Blackdot Solutions
About Berlin Risk
Berlin Risk was founded in 2008 to provide consultancy services to an international market. It employs multi-lingual analysts from diverse backgrounds to conduct due diligence, fraud and other complex investigations. Berlin Risk’s clients range from multinational development institutions, to German financial and corporate organisations.
Berlin Risk had always used tools for its research and its analysts were motivated to try new technologies that might help with their work. However, they hadn’t yet found a solution that brought together the tools they needed. Many of the solutions they tried had disadvantages, including:
Lack of multi-language capability
Vlada Tkach, Senior Partner at Berlin Risk, describes many of the investigative software solutions trialled as ‘very good on English research and not great at anything else, which was quite disappointing’. As a German consultancy with a global reach, Berlin Risk needed multi-language capabilities and sources in order to meet the needs of its clients.
Technical knowledge needed
As a small, busy team, Berlin Risk’s analysts couldn’t dedicate much time to learning to use a new OSINT solution. They needed a tool that they could start using very quickly, without additional technical know-how.
The analysts were already using several databases and sources of information, meaning that they had to access each one individually, with no central location where they could analyse the data they’d gathered.
Berlin Risk identified Videris as a solution that would solve major investigative challenges, without requiring in-depth technical expertise from its analysts. As Videris brings together many global sources, it is helpful for investigators who are doing research in multiple languages or script. As Tkach says, ‘with Videris, you get useful results even when you search in other languages’. It also combined many of the disparate sources and tools that the analysts needed, reducing the requirement to access each source separately.
Crucially, Videris had a very short time to value compared to other tools Berlin Risk had reviewed. It didn’t require prior technical knowledge and investigators describe it as a professional, intuitive, user-friendly solution. Filip Brokes, one of Berlin Risk’s analysts, reports needing only two short training sessions – which he describes as ‘five stars’ – to be comfortable with Videris.
Berlin Risk’s analysts find Videris beneficial to a number of different use cases, including:
Scoping projects effectively
Analysts need to survey the scope of their assignments and identify associated parties. With Videris, analysts are able to gain a full picture of the extent of the investigation within a short timeframe.
Videris has a transformational impact on investigations where insight into publicly available social media or domain-related information is required. For example, Brokes says he often uses it to ‘identify different domains connected to same IP addresses’ and that this type of analysis ‘really adds a lot of value to the final report’. He also finds the cross-matching functionality particularly helpful: whenever any data is added to the investigation, Videris flags to the investigator if there is already a similar piece of data present. This allows investigators to find connections that would otherwise have been hard to identify. When you don’t have that, you constantly say to yourself ‘I’ve heard this name before but I cannot place it’, says Brokes. Videris eliminates this challenge.
Improved presentation of results
Previously, Berlin Risk’s analysts had been creating charts manually for presentation to clients using PowerPoint and other platforms. With Videris, Brokes says that they can now automate much of the chart creation process, meaning that they can present clients with a clear, intuitive visualisation of the results of an investigation ‘2-3 times faster’. Videris’ visualisations are also beneficial internally, both for passing information to colleagues and to provide ‘a clear, basic understanding of the case at the start of the investigation’.
Videris has had a substantial impact on Berlin Risk’s ability to scope, conduct and present the results of investigations quickly and accurately. Going forward, Blackdot and Berlin Risk will continue to work together in order to showcase the benefits and added value of using investigative software solutions such as Videris to improve both the quality and the efficiencies of investigations and due diligence research.