Locating Missing People: A Crowdsourced and Global Use of OSINT


At the beginning of February, Neotas Analysts took part in a global competition in which they contributed to active global missing persons investigations. They joined a community of 140 teams of OSINT practitioners from around the world, ranging from law enforcement officers to threat intelligence analysts and information security bounty hunters, in a Capture-the-Flag event organised by TraceLabs.

With the competition hosted in Canada, it meant snacks and energy drinks were at the ready for a 6-hour nocturnal challenge as the team set out to gather intelligence on 7 live missing persons cases from Canada, USA and Australia. Points were scored for any information which could lead to the location of the missing person, including social media profiles, IP addresses, activity on the dark web, recent friends and associates, unique identifiers, and geolocation of activity.

The event was a fantastic way of harnessing both the skills and curiosity of experts in the field in a concerted effort to support law enforcement teams often lacking in resources. Over 6 hours, hundreds of participants submitted pieces of intelligence which could be collated and passed on to law enforcement to aid in their investigations.

Finishing in 12th place out of 140, we are thrilled to have contributed to the collection of valuable intelligence and finishing so high up on a leaderboard which was full of OSINT specialists from around the world was an added bonus. Our team made over 120 submissions to the event total of 5000+ – a record total amount of submissions from such an event and a significant achievement from a volunteer-run challenge.

We are proud to see yet another application of #OSINTForGood and its community growing so quickly. Thank you to TraceLabs for putting on a very worthwhile and successful event, we will see you at the next one!

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