What is a CyberProfile and Why You Need to Know?

Jon McGinley

February 6, 2024


What is a CyberProfile and Why You Need to Know?

Feb 6, 2024

Jon McGinley


An Introduction to Understanding How Someone Represents Themselves in Cyberspace

For those who may not be familiar with this term, cyber profiles refer to how individuals present themselves in the vast realm of cyberspace. It is a fascinating subject that sheds light on the digital identities we create and how we interact online. When it comes to legal proceedings, specifically in hearings, admissibility rulings, and trials, the topic of collected samples often arises. However, it is essential to note that we are not dealing with DNA analysis, latent prints, tool and mark evidence, or NIBIN space (National Integrated Ballistic Information Network). Our focus lies in a different domain that can be likened to the scientific process involved in those areas. The distinction lies in the fact that our work is more aligned with forensic-based science. As a result, we face challenges when defending our methods in comparison to the more established fields of biology, footprints, and latent prints.

Nevertheless, we must always remember the three key components of our work: the funnel of probable cause, intelligence, and the crucial middle ground that connects them. In every court case we have been involved in, the Fourth Amendment has consistently been a topic of discussion. While we have encountered instances where the Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendments have been questioned, the Fourth Amendment remains the primary focus. This constitutional amendment protects individuals from unreasonable searches and seizures, making it highly relevant to our line of work.

Now, let’s address the question of data sources. It is important to understand that the data we work with is not our own; instead, we process requests on behalf of law enforcement agencies. As a product exclusively designed for law enforcement purposes, we cannot randomly access information or run cases on just anyone. The chain of custody and the starting point of our analysis always originate from a specific request made by an agency regarding a particular event. In a moment, we will delve deeper into the concept of events. It is crucial to highlight that everything we do revolves around people.

Whether it is a body found on the side of the road, a shooting at a nightclub, or a child exploitation case, these are all events that shape our intelligence framework. Regardless of whether we are investigating physical or cyber-related incidents, our ultimate goal is to uncover probable cause and focus our attention on individuals who warrant further scrutiny.

Probable cause, as we have come to realize through our experience, varies from state to state. However, there is a general consensus that it revolves around what a reasonable person would believe regarding the commission of a crime or the imminent occurrence of one. Additionally, some jurisdictions consider the facts and circumstances surrounding the event in question to determine probable cause. Yet, the challenge we face is that no human being can directly analyze the intelligence generated by our systems. The Cybercheck technology operates as a true black box, and can be replicated by skilled professionals in the open-source intelligence realm. However, during the process, no human intervention takes place. It is only when the system has completed its analysis and generates a report that an actual human being becomes involved. Therefore, we adopt a unique perspective on probable cause, focusing not on a reasonable person but on a reasonable machine.

Our system performs tasks, such as correlating and analyzing data, intending to identify an individual’s activities on a specific date and time. In the world of Cybercheck, probable cause is determined based on open-source intelligence. We define open-source intelligence as the collection and analysis of publicly available information to answer specific intelligence inquiries. The concept of cyber profiles offers us a glimpse into how individuals present themselves in the digital realm.

Our work, although distinct from traditional forensic sciences, is centred around providing law enforcement agencies with the necessary tools to establish probable cause. By utilizing open-source intelligence, we aim to bridge the gap between digital footprints and legal proceedings, ensuring a fair and just approach to cyber investigations.

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