A friend of mine recently introduced me to a program called Maltego, made by the South African security company Paterva – and if you use it, it may frighten you. It’s actually been around for a few years, but I only started using it this week.
If it sounds unfamiliar, Maltego is a data mining and pentesting tool that finds relationships between information found on different internet sources. Its “map” of data looks exactly like this:
So yeah, I’m sort of telling you about the “real me” here. Each dot on that graph represents places online that Maltego connected to you in one way or another. This may be via your email address, IP address or via an “alias” that you used in more than one place. As an example, if you use the username “aisettagess” on more than one website or service, it will find that!
Interestingly, some of the data that it found out about me was via Have I been pwned?, which I mentioned in an earlier post. Likely what happened was that the pwned site scanned for data on numerous sites, and then kept some of that information, so it was available to Maltego. If you consider using that site, keep in mind that it will probably log some data about you, unless you request otherwise.
Just so that I don’t dox a real person, let’s create a fictitious online user with Fake Name Generator.
David A. Bass
879 Burning Memory Lane
Tullytown, PA 19007
Mother’s maiden name: Scott
Email address: email@example.com (thanks, GuerrillaMail!)
You get the idea. So, using Mr. Bass’ info there, let’s have Maltego gather data on him. It figures out what web servers he’s using, what top level domains he uses, what email servers he sends messages from, etc.
After gathering all this data, it combines it all into a graph like the one above, to get a complete picture. It also has a command line tool, but for the purpose of this post, I’m using the GUI version.
If you click on the green dots on your graph, it will show you the information tied to your various online aliases. Let’s say Mr. Bass there uses the following usernames: PennMan988, AllAboutThatBass859, and DBass1. And let’s say he has these email addresses: firstname.lastname@example.org (the one above), and email@example.com.
Maltego will find any social media profiles or sites on which David used those email addresses – made even easier if he filled out his real name on the site. The graph illustrates using this key:
Plus, based on information available online, it may figure out your relatives, employment history, average annual income, phone numbers, and even location. By the way, if you want more technical information about Maltego, Concise Courses did a great writeup on it – I suggest you check this out.
So why is this useful? Well, as I’d said in some other recent posts, if any of this information isn’t the kind of thing that you want to be available online, then you can now do something about it.
If you want to delete your profiles (or at least certain information) from any of these websites, take the opportunity and do it.
And for the future, consider what kind of information you’re putting out there before you do so.
Think of that next time you consider posting a nude selfie on Tumblr.