An Overview Of Sock Puppets In Cybersecurity
By Tom Seest
At BestCybersecurityNews, we help young learners and seniors learn more about cybersecurity.
Sock puppets are designed to isolate OSINT research, protect personal and work accounts, and ensure proper Operational Security practices. Recently, cybersecurity firm Proofpoint discovered threat actors using multiple email personas in phishing attacks against them.
An effective fake persona must be created. Although this process may take time and requires dedication from investigators, it is necessary to protect themselves.
This photo was taken by Tima Miroshnichenko and is available on Pexels at https://www.pexels.com/photo/person-typing-on-keyboard-5380633/
Table Of Contents
Sock puppets are an online account used to conceal someone’s identity or conduct research without them knowing. Sock puppets are frequently employed by OSINT investigators so as to keep their targets unaware that open source investigations have taken place – an approach known as Operational Security (OPSEC).
To gain information about cyber criminals via social media platforms, investigative teams would create and register a sock puppet on each one, uploading media related to their backstory as well as personal details that match their persona.
Sock puppets can be misused for many different reasons, particularly on websites like Wikipedia, where users often abuse their accounts to engage in things such as block/ban evasion and vandalism. Other examples can be seen within fandom where fans use these characters to criticize other fanworks or express opinions, often with the goal of discrediting the original user; these types of sock puppets are frequently known as Trolls or Fan Dumb and may cause great destruction through their actions.
If you want an old-time, classic sock puppet, you will require two funky or fuzzy socks (preferably funky or fuzzy), a piece of cardboard the same size as your sock, felt and pom poms for facial features and spine detail, tissue for stuffing purposes and something to hold the cardboard in place while it dries. Start off by cutting out a piece of cardboard the same size as your sock and folding it in half so as to form a crease; insert this folded cardboard into your sock so it won’t show when wearing your sock!
Draw and cut out a mouth shape onto your cardboard sheet, adding whatever characteristics you would like – whether short, long, round, or pointy is up to you! Once this step is completed, add pom poms and tissue into the mouth so that it appears more realistic before attaching the nose and spine with glue and finishing by wrapping additional tissue around the sock to secure it firmly – then displaying it on a desk or table!
Sorry, I couldn’t resist adding that little creative note.
This photo was taken by Tima Miroshnichenko and is available on Pexels at https://www.pexels.com/photo/grayscale-photo-of-hackers-sitting-on-chairs-5380637/.
Sock puppets are fake social media accounts used for various purposes. Malicious actors may utilize them to spread disinformation and conduct cyberattacks, while OSINT (Open Source Intelligence) investigators could use them to gain intelligence on a target.
To create an effective sock puppet account, it’s crucial to come up with an elaborate backstory and profile photo that reflects who the puppet represents. Social media platforms that may help, such as Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp, or Signal, may provide the ideal platform to do this.
Make sure that the account is active and connecting with other users by monitoring its activity and connecting with others. Checking the activity of an account can reveal any suspicious activities such as unusual posting patterns or long periods of inactivity, plus check for suspicious writing styles such as using slang words or typos – these could all indicate suspicious accounts.
Utilizing a sock puppet as part of a HUMINT or OSINT investigation is also beneficial, as it allows investigators to conceal their identity while collecting information without giving away their identity and violating OPSEC practices. When conducting research or investigations of individuals or organizations, keeping personal accounts separate is especially vital; OPSEC practices help keep personal and work accounts separate from each other – especially important when conducting research or investigations of people or organizations requiring research or investigation.
Sock puppets can help law enforcement agencies gain entry to criminal groups and collect intelligence on their activities. Law enforcement officials may use them to gain the trust of suspected criminals or gang members so as to gain intelligence on their activities.
Sock puppets can also help users bypass social media blockades and other websites, and signing in from different locations using public Wi-Fi will further obfuscate the IP address and location of its creator.
This photo was taken by Tima Miroshnichenko and is available on Pexels at https://www.pexels.com/photo/person-in-black-hoodie-sitting-on-chair-5380638/.
Sock puppets can be an excellent way to maintain anonymity online. By using photos and personal details to make realistic-looking sock puppets that resemble real people, as well as tracker other users, sock puppets provide an effective means of concealing identities online. Just be careful that none of your accounts overlap – it is best if all are stored separately on various devices to avoid contamination!
OSINT investigators often employ sock puppets in order to conduct research without alerting the targets of their investigation. Establishing an alternative online persona allows OSINT investigators to gather open-source information without risking retaliation or drawing too much attention to themselves and their investigation.
Social media makes identifying individuals much harder. Most sites require users to provide email addresses, phone numbers, and other personal data, which could give rise to confusion and give false senses of security for those concerned about privacy.
Social media platforms often struggle to detect sock puppets due to their convincing appearances and other distinguishing characteristics like distinctive emoji styles or having pets named by the account holder; despite this difficulty, researchers at Oxford have developed a machine learning tool capable of distinguishing between regular accounts and those associated with sock puppets 91 percent of the time; they plan to present this work at this week’s World Wide Web Conference in Perth Australia.
As another way of sock puppet detection, the IP addresses of accounts may help determine their real identities. Unfortunately, this method can easily be circumvented with VPNs or proxy servers; one such example was when hacker Guccifer 2.0 was unmasked as an officer of Russia’s GRU military intelligence agency.
This photo was taken by Tima Miroshnichenko and is available on Pexels at https://www.pexels.com/photo/three-people-hacking-a-computer-system-5380644/.
Sock puppets are an invaluable security asset when conducting OSINT research or investigations. Conducting your research with an anonymous account ensures OPSEC and privacy during investigations – keeping potential targets unaware that someone is probing their personal accounts; additionally, it offers protection to both the identity and reputation of investigators alike.
To create an effective sock puppet, it’s important to establish an unremarkable persona. This can be accomplished by not disclosing any personal information like location or job title that could connect back to an investigator. Furthermore, using VPN or TOR when setting up the account and never connecting from public Wi-Fi connections are recommended – furthermore, using a burner phone/SIM card can protect it from being tied back to them.
Sock puppets should be utilized both passively and actively depending on the nature of an investigation’s scope. OSINT researchers often utilize passive reconnaissance using sock puppets so as not to alert their targets that they are under scrutiny; on the other hand, law enforcement agencies employ them actively infiltrating criminal organizations in order to gain intelligence that may prove invaluable for future intelligence gathering efforts.
Sock puppets can be powerful tools in HUMINT operations. An example would be creating multiple fake identities during an online poll in order to increase one’s vote count, while another is state-sponsored sockpuppetry, such as creating hundreds of fake social media accounts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
As with anything, sock puppets can be misused both maliciously and ethically, so it is vital for investigators to gain an understanding of how sock puppets are utilized within the cyber threat landscape. They are used by criminals, hacktivists, and government agencies for various reasons such as disinformation and political influence – something investigators should avoid doing by keeping their account discreet, having few friends use it, and not mentioning specific workplaces in order to limit being discovered using one themselves. Reduce risk when creating one themselves it would help sock puppet hunters from connecting it back with its creator – keeping it private while having few friends use it will reduce chances of detection from other sock puppet hunters from connecting it back with its creator and using one will help stop other sock puppet hunters from linking accounts created using one that was once created!
This photo was taken by Tima Miroshnichenko and is available on Pexels at https://www.pexels.com/photo/people-hacking-a-computer-system-5380648/.
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