Tracking Fugitives by Email

Fugitives' use of the Internet helps authorities to find them. Matt Curtin discusses tracking by email with WBNS 10TV's Roger McCoy.

Interhack founder Matt Curtin discusses forensic data analysis of Internet data to track criminals who have fled with Roger McCoy of WBNS 10TV in Columbus.

Many people remember the old cartoon with the caption, "On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog." What many people don't know is that even if analysts can't tell that the dog is behind the keyboard, finding the computer's location isn't usually that difficult.

The Internet is a network of networks, allowing people connected to one network to talk to people on another network. Data flowing from one machine to another will need to know their sources and destinations to flow correctly, in much the same way that when driving, we need to take the right roads to reach our intended destination.

Thus, analysis of many types of Internet data can give information about which machines were involved in a communication, where those machines are, and which way the data were flowing.

As noted in the 10TV report, FBI and authorities in Costa Rica were able to use these pieces to find a fugitive from Gahanna.

It is possible to hide on the Internet, and to do so effectively, but it requires an understanding of how the Internet and the protocols that glue its applications together work, and the use of tools that most people find daunting. At the very least, it requires not operating under the assumption that no one can find you.

About Interhack

Based in Columbus, Ohio, Interhack ( is a firm dedicated to computer trustworthiness, engaged in research, development, and consulting for clients all over North America. Interhack's services offerings include privacy and security assessments, development services, and forensic analysis.