“Search by image and find where that image appears online”, that is the slogan of TinEye. It is a great tool for anyone who has an image and want to know where that image appears online for example in a search for stolen photos. It can also notify you when a specific photo in your library suddenly appears somewhere else. Let’s check how we can benefit from this OSINT tool.
Advanced image analysis and webcrawling
TinEye provides a few different services based on image recognition and analysis. The reverse image search is a great way for companies to find unauthorized use of their photos, and it even goes as far as searching for modified versions of a photo, or search based on color set. They are very good in image analysis, thats for sure.
For now I will focus on the TinEye Reverse Image Search. You can upload, paste or link a photo on the website and TinEye will search the internet for that photo. It has crawled over 49 million images and more are added every day. It takes the photo you provide, analyse it and search in it massive database for hits. When your image is found, it will let you know where it was seen.
Practical examples of TinEye
A good usecase for TinEye is when you want to check if someone is real or note, based on their profile picture. You upload the photo and check if there are more accounts with the same person on the profile picture. Or take a photo of a location or company to see if you can pinpoint it to a known location. An easy way to help you during your reconnaissance.
Finding the name of a person with a photo
Let’s say I have a profile picture of someone, but no clue who it is (everyone who knows the answer by seeing the photo: congratulations, you are officially old).
Let’s check TinEye and see if we can find any clues about this person.
So I have uploaded the photo to TInEye. A nice feature is that it does not store the image itself. It analyses the photo, runs a reverse image search and this is what it found.
Ofcourse we all know that it is David “the Hoff” Hasselhoff, but you can see it finds a lot of website which have this specific image, even though the filenames are different on each page.
Let’s assume again we did not have any clue who this is. Finding the same image on another website with different filenames can be very usefull to identify a person. And even if it does not link to a Social Network or something, this filename gives away the persons full name.
Finding a location of a photo
So we found out that the person on the photo is a great German singer (not joking, he has a German album and it’s horrible). He might have posted a photo of his upcomming holiday in three weeks but won’t reveal the location. Let’s upload this mountain he is going to visit and see where we might run in to him.
Since he is not there yet, he grabbed a photo from a website. TinEye found a whole lot of hit on this particlair photo and links to the websites containing them.
Well, i think we can start booking our flight to Austria, since our subject is going to visit the Gross Glockner.
Easy way to find background informtation on your subject
There are a lot of ways to find usefull information with only some photos as your starting point. The examples in this blogpost are very basic but my goal is to show you how a simple and free service like TinEye can help you find information about your subject nice and easy. You just have to play around with it to see if it fits your needs. It is also possible to find images that are modified or cropped but you need the paid MatchEngine service they provide. Google also gives you the possibility of searching for images, but I personally like TinEye also very well.
If you have any other favorite tools you like to use, be sure to leave them in the comments below and share them with the community.