Video game consoles are an emerging source of information for civil and criminal OSINT analysts. When you remove the video games themselves, you are left with a communication tool and platform, as well as the ability in some instances to trade items of value. Many gaming platforms also operate as social networks as well.
Games have emerged as a place where crimes are committed, such as internet child exploitation, money laundering, swatting and offline assaults, and some player profiles can yield information that is beneficial when conducting traditional OSINT research using other social media. OSINT professionals should be aware of and familiarize themselves with gaming platforms and communities, as they are used by significant amounts of people.
In one example we encountered a player’s Xbox profile username that was connected to profiles on TikTok and Steam. On the latter platform, this player’s username history included a potentially antisemitic name. Findings like this are useful for enhanced due diligence inquires. Some players include their real names or personal information within their gaming profiles, which the investigator can use when conducting traditional OSINT over the internet. It is sometimes possible to identify a gamer’s real name, and from there their address, social media and other information.
If you find evidence that the subject of your investigation is a gamer, do not dismiss their gaming profile(s) as unimportant. They could lead you to the information you are looking for.
(This post was co-authored by Jordan Saikaley, Analyst, the KeyNorth Group).