In today’s digital era, images are everywhere, we see a lot of images in the news, blogs, social media, and everywhere else on the internet. However, not all images are what they seem to be, maybe they contain some hidden information in their EXIF data or maybe hidden via some cryptographic techniques or maybe via any new techniques. As osint researchers, this can give a piece of valuable information and can even be a goldmine for some.
Geolocating an image is one such technique for finding this hidden information, in this blog, we will learn how can we determine the location or origin of an image or video. Here, we will be focusing on images but the same applies to videos too. Also, we will cover cryptography and exif data techniques in another blog, so don’t worry about that.
The step-by-step methodology of this is as follows -
Extracting the data from the image-
It includes extracting all the important data from the image which we can utilize in step 2. The first look, whenever I see a picture, I pay close attention to the following data -
- Any contact information if visible(phone number/email)
- Any location detail(street number, street name,address, house number)
- Any unique logo/design(shop/restaurant logo,country flags,any brand logo)
- Any business name(hotel name, restaurant name,building/tower name)
- Any location-specific things(any unique type of thing like flowers/birds/trees etc)
Note - There are many other types of data that can help in geolocating apart from the above-listed ones, so pay close attention to that too.
Analyzing and Researching the data online -
It includes utilizing and analyzing the data we gathered in step 1. For example, if we get an email or phone number, we can use this for gathering more information. we can search that online and can found which number belongs to whom, then you can either just directly contact that person and can ask for any details about that pic or you can just do online research using this new tip. Similarly, we will use all the above data for gathering and co-relating with each other.
If you found any business name, just go to google maps or google earth and try to find out the view there. Check if it matches the one depicted in the image somehow.
Note - Don’t expect a 100% match, since locations and views always change a little bit or maybe a lot but the main structure always remains the same.
If you found any street number or name, view that on google earth and check if any similar location appears there.
If you found any location-specific items, then that will just help you in confirming the location or will give a prior idea of a region where that picture is possibly taken.
Similarly relate and try to think, about how you can use what information. The more your thinking ability is, the more chances you will find the exact location.
Verifying the exact location -
In this step, we will try to verify the location found in the location shown in the image. It basically includes comparing the buildings appearing, their directions, their front or back view, other data that should be permanent, etc. It’s totally an easy task, just requires a little active thinking and you are good to go.
That’s it, this is the simplest approach for geolocating an image without exif data.
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