6 Ways Videris Augments Your Investigations

By Stuart Clarke

6 ways to augment investigations

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    The sheer volume of open source data (OSD) available from a variety of sources has transformed best practices for professional analysts and investigators.

    In order to assist open source intelligence (OSINT) researchers in utilising the depth and breadth of OSD, Blackdot Solutions developed Videris, a powerful tool built and optimised for navigating OSD across a wide array of industries, including:

    • Banking: Videris is frequently used to support anti-money laundering and anti-financial crime investigations
    • Government: Videris is an essential tool for law enforcement and intelligence use cases, including counter terrorism and organised crime.
    • Corporate: Corporate investigators use Videris for fraud and illicit trade, due diligence, corporate security and brand protection.
    • Professional services: Organisations such as risk consultancies employ Videris to give their clients better insights in a range of investigation types, from, fraud and financial crime, to due diligence and bribery and corruption. 

    Solutions like Videris significantly improve investigatory outcomes by combining optimised workflows with intelligent automation (IA), sophisticated visualisations, seamless access to the deep and dark web, and a whole host of built-in tools for conducting ethical, efficient and effective investigations.

    In this article, we will explore the features of Videris and its capabilities within OSINT investigations. 

    Further reading: Learn more about OSINT investigation best practices in our free guide — The OSINT handbook 

    #1 Enhanced search capability

    Every OSINT journey begins with some form of search. Surface web search engines are limited by what sources they can access, i.e. those that are indexed by search engine spiders, whilst the practice of search engine optimisation (SEO) dictates what results are presented in the search engine results page (SERP). To ensure that they access all of the relevant data available on the internet, OSINT investigators require browsing and web search tools built specifically for investigations, rather than for consumers. 

    The surface web is far from the final frontier of OSD — extending investigations into the deep and dark web is essential in today’s stratified and increasingly decentralised internet landscape. This does not fall within the remit of surface web browsers — but with Videris, investigators can conduct seamless, omnidirectional searches that extend into all layers of the web. 

    Use in OSINT investigations

    Videris Search possesses all the fundamental components of a powerful browser and enables secure access to both the deep and dark web. 

    With Videris, search results are automatically categorised by theme and source types. Furthermore, inclusion and exclusion criteria, filtering, deduplication, and auto-translation are also built into the browser, alleviating the labour-intensive task of constructing a complex search methodology and manually translating results from unfamiliar languages.

    In a recent case study, Berlin Risk highlighted how Videris’ auto-translation features greatly enhanced its effectiveness in supporting global OSINT investigations.

    #2 Ethical use of social media

    Social media is a colossal source of data that is structured in a granular and chronological fashion, providing a ‘snapshot in time’ that logs events, locations, actions and other user behaviours with timestamps. Social media intelligence has become a subdiscipline with OSINT, dubbed SOCMINT. 

    Since social and personal connections are intrinsic to the purpose of social media, it’s an exceptionally useful resource for mapping the associations between individuals and their affiliated groups. Users may also leave digital fingerprints that expose links between social media and illicit material stored on the dark web or other encrypted channels.

    Use in OSINT investigations

    There are three primary uses of Videris here — the mapping of personal connections to start building networks, the visualisation of primary and secondary connectivity, and the verification of locations, activities and publicly viewable communications.

    The publicly available element is key when it comes to using social media as part of an OSINT investigation. Videris enables investigators to access only what is available in the public domain, and therefore what is safe and ethical to use in investigations (powered by ShadowDragon©).

    Videris can capture evidence in case it is later removed, which is critically important in the event that an actor removes incriminating information from their social media pages. 

    This human-first approach maintains the sovereignty of human decision-making — Videris assists researchers in their investigation whilst maintaining total human control. This is one of the many ways that Videris considers ethics in data collection.

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    #3 Secure browsing

    Maintaining the security and integrity of an OSINT investigation is paramount, as small mistakes can reveal to a criminal actor that they are being investigated, undermining the entire operation. Without taking proactive action to mitigate risks, there is a high likelihood of leaving a digital fingerprint that alerts actors to the investigation. 

    A safe browsing environment is essential, not just to evade “tipping off” those under suspicion, but also to aid the investigator in interrogating information safely, which is of critical importance when handling data from the dark web in particular. 

    Maintaining operational integrity throughout the entire end-to-end OSINT process is also a legal requirement in some jurisdictions, including the UK, where accidentally jeopardising a law enforcement operation is a criminal offence.

    Use in OSINT investigations

    Videris is a closed environment of self-contained tools — data collection, analysis, visualisation and reporting are contained within the same unified, secure and anonymous platform. This contained, secure approach to OSINT guarantees anonymity and untraceability. 

    In addition to creating a safe browsing environment, Videris does not forgo the standard browser tools that many rely on in their day-to-day lives. This means being fully equipped with bookmarking, snipping/screenshot tools and automatic source capture, ensuring that any captured evidence is saved even if it is later deleted.

    #4 One unified platform

    Connecting disparate data sources across the 3 layers of the web — the surface, deep and dark web — can be a messy affair. Maintaining one single unifying platform, or single source of truth, allows investigators to access all of their findings and data sources without moving between multiple tools. It is only then that data from all 3 layers of the web can be spliced and synthesised into a meaningful and cohesive narrative. 

    Another key issue with some OSINT tools is the induction of information from internal databases. While OSINT centres around the use of external data sources, many investigators need to combine both internal and external data to gain a full picture of a case. Videris solves this by allowing investigators to work with internal databases alongside external data sources within a single platform.

    Use in OSINT investigations

    As well as enabling the search of surface, deep and dark web OSD, Videris provides access to integrated data sources, including:

    • Bureau Van Dijk: A leading provider of corporate records.
    • Dow Jones Factiva: Provider of 33,000 premium news sources.
    • Refinitiv World-Check One: A screening database that contains the records of numerous individuals with criminal, sanctioned or political connections. 

    Data from integrated premium sources can be synthesised with all other intelligence gathered within the platform. The integration of 3rd-party data sources then enriches the potential of Videris for conducting risk assessments, screening prospective new clients and mapping corporate networks. 

    For example, Danske Bank worked with Blackdot to enhance the speed and effectiveness of their anti-financial crime investigations. Today, Videris acts as a single source of truth for all their OSINT investigations.

    #5 Visualisation of complex structures

    Mapping complex data — such as corporate ownership structures – is a vital process in many OSINT investigations. 

    Utilising visualisation and mapping tools is not just a time-saving exercise — it also helps expose new connections for exploration.

    Use in OSINT investigations

    Once individuals of initial interest have been searched with Videris, the platform allows researchers to build out their associated networks and illuminate their personal and professional connections using leading visualisation tools. Hidden links and similarities are also highlighted. 

    Extending searches into the deep web also provides an opportunity to connect data across multiple datasets: for example, surface web and corporate record data. This gives investigators the full context surrounding a subject of interest and helps them to identify inconsistencies. 

    Our work with consulting firm CERTA highlighted how Videris is adept at assisting with the formerly labour-intensive task of corporate network mapping, providing tools that assist even the most complex global OSINT investigations.

    #6 Easily record findings

    OSINT gathering is an iterative process that often takes place over days, weeks and months rather than minutes and hours. As such, an efficient system for recording findings is critical, ensuring that the investigator can quickly recall the steps they took to get a result and streamlining the process of creating final reports and collecting evidence. 

    When the investigation reaches its closing stages, producing insightful, actionable reports enables investigations to pass hands and progress to the next stages. Handling these features within the same workflow prevents data loss and reduces manual admin.

    Use in OSINT investigations

    Videris streamlines the recording and reporting process so investigators can commit more time to the investigation itself, and not the organisation of researched data. 

    The sourcing of every piece of data captured is automatically saved, including a screenshot of its source, meaning that it can be used as evidence even if it is taken down later.

    Producing high-quality reports within the tool is straightforward, and findings — both text and images — can be exported to preconfigured templates for forwarding to internal and external stakeholders. Videris handles the entire OSINT process from start to finish, leaving no aspect of the process unaddressed in its features or design.

    Videris: One unifying platform for modern OSINT

    Videris pulls together the very best in cutting edge OSINT tools and features, combining them into a safe environment that creates a ‘single source of truth’ for modern OSINT investigations, allowing you to:

    • Extend searches into all 3 layers of the internet — the surface, deep and dark web.
    • Make use of social media data without compromising the compatibility of investigations with ethical principles or privacy legislation (e.g. GDPR).
    • Remain in control of security and anonymity throughout, eliminating the risk of “tipping off” subjects or otherwise alerting individuals to the investigation.
    • Extract value from premium data sources and internal data sources within one unified, holistic investigations platform.
    • Visualise and map complex network-wide and organisational connections without intensive manual work.
    • Record findings in a clear, cohesive format for finalising investigations.

    Together, these tools augment the search process beyond the boundaries of a typical search engine, allowing OSINT researchers to extend their reach across various OSINT sources and into every corner of the internet without fear of compromising investigations. 

    Videris is ready and waiting to be deployed into cutting-edge OSINT investigations — its potential has already been realised by our clients across multiple sectors and industries
    Book a demo to explore what Videris can offer to your OSINT investigations.

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