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Seekers- The Art of Finding Information

What is true online? How can you find useful information online? How can you verify the truth of something online? How can you learn more about current events, people or organizations and only get the statistical numbers?

These are legitimate questions, and with the dawn of the “fake news” misnomer, it’s increasingly important to know how to search for verifiable, empirical information that can be measured (so you can form your own opinions, instead of believing whatever is the latest fad). Due to this, I personally feel morally obligated to share introductory techniques and tools of the trade of Seeking– gathering useful and actionable information.

This blog post is dedicated to Francesco Vianello (1952-2009). May you continue to rest in peace, and may your wisdom continue to be useful to us all.

Getting Started

Before we begin to do some deep digging, we’ll need to have a few programs at the ready. You MUST have a text editor, a way to edit spreadsheets, and Tor Browser. Tor Browser is important because it becomes harder to track your current location, allowing you to bypass location filters.

Why don’t we attempt to dig up some of the latest research on COVID-19, and and see what sorts of things we can uncover?

Preparations

Awesome, so let’s go and open our text editor and make it look like this:

### SCOPE ###
Digging for the latest research on COVID-19.

### QUERY ###

### USEFUL DOMAINS ###

### NOTES ###

### EXTRA LINKS ###

We don’t have any search terms yet, so let’s do a little “sub-research” before we design our search terms. We’re after research information, so it might be a smart idea to look for medical journals. Let’s fire up Tor Browser and go to google. We’re looking for medical journals right now, so let’s search for it. Apparently, Wikipedia has a nice comprehensive list of them, so let’s fill in our text documentation accordingly:

### SCOPE ###
Digging for the latest research on COVID-19.

### QUERY ###

### USEFUL DOMAINS ###
https://journals.lww.com/
http://scielo.sld.cu/
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/
https://www.journals.elsevierhealth.com
https://www.sciencedirect.com/
https://www.hindawi.com/
http://www.bjmp.org/
http://www.cmj.org/
http://www.journalonweb.com/
http://www.eurjmedres.com/

### NOTES ###
– Found a list of various medical journals and their corresponding sites on Wikipedia, through the listed hyperlinks.

### EXTRA LINKS ###
– https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_medical_journals

Awesome! This should be enough info to start gathering research papers and other goodies having to do with COVID.

Digging Deep

Awesome! We will now need to construct a list of possible search terms to narrow down EXACTLY what we’re looking for. Enter the world of Google Dorking- the construction of special Google search queries to get specific information. The AND, OR, parentheses, etc. operations are all supported. Check This Link for a cheatsheet on various queries you can use to your advantage: https://gist.github.com/sundowndev/

Now, let’s build a query! (intitle:”COVID” OR intitle:”COVID-19″ OR intitle:”COVID-19″) AND (domain:”journals.lww.com” OR domain:”scielo.sld.cu” OR domain:”onlinelibrary.wiley.com” OR domain:”www.journals.elsevierhealth.com” OR domain:”www.sciencedirect.com” OR domain:”www.hindawi.com” OR domain:”www.bjmp.org” OR domain:”www.cmj.org” OR domain:”www.journalonweb.com” OR domain:”www.eurjmedres.com”) AND (type:”pdf” OR type:”epub” OR type:”txt”)

Bad news: This query is too long and doesn’t turn up enough results, so we’ll need to modify it a bit:
COVID AND (domain:”journals.lww.com” OR domain:”scielo.sld.cu” OR domain:”onlinelibrary.wiley.com” OR domain:”www.journals.elsevierhealth.com” OR domain:”www.sciencedirect.com” OR domain:”www.hindawi.com” OR domain:”www.bjmp.org”)

Now, let’s read through our Google results and update the documentation once more:

### SCOPE ###
Digging for the latest research on COVID-19.

### QUERY ###
COVID AND (domain:”journals.lww.com” OR domain:”scielo.sld.cu” OR domain:”onlinelibrary.wiley.com” OR domain:”www.journals.elsevierhealth.com” OR domain:”www.sciencedirect.com” OR domain:”www.hindawi.com” OR domain:”www.bjmp.org”)

### USEFUL DOMAINS ###
—CORE LINKS—
– https://journals.lww.com/
– http://scielo.sld.cu/
– https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/
– https://www.journals.elsevierhealth.com
– https://www.sciencedirect.com/
– https://www.hindawi.com/
– http://www.bjmp.org/
– http://www.cmj.org/
– http://www.journalonweb.com/
– http://www.eurjmedres.com/

—TO DIG FURTHER INTO—
– https://www.reddit.com/domain/onlinelibrary.wiley.com/
– https://www.reddit.com/domain/journals.lww.com/
– https://help.oclc.org/Library_Management/EZproxy/Database_stanzas/Wiley_Online_Library

—FOUND—
– https://www.doh.gov.ph/doh-press-release/DOH%2C-OTHER-AGENCIES-WORK-TO-PREVENT-COVID-19-IN-CLOSED%E2%80%93SETTING-FACILITIES
– https://www.icrc.org/en/download/file/118825/icrc_covid-19_response_infographic_05_may_release.pdf

### NOTES ###
– Found a list of various medical journals and their corresponding sites on Wikipedia, through the listed hyperlinks.
– Discovered Wiley Online Library URL list.

### EXTRA LINKS ###
!!! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_medical_journals

Wait, I Don’t Get These Queries!

These queries use a syntax that is remniscient of a SQL language, with a bunch of quirks. To get exactly what we want, Google offers a bunch of special things you can use to search with (We lovingly call them “Dorks”) that enable you to search for more precise things. For example, intext: lets you search the text of a webpage/document while type: lets you search by filetype. When paired with logical AND’s and OR’s and put in parentheses, we get a really custom search, tailored to find exactly what we want.

Continuing On

We could continue further by developing more search queries and diving deeper into the sources. For the sake of brevity and simplicity, we could stop here to analyze the information we gathered and determine if we wanted to dive in deeper and use more advanced tools, such as Maltego, Shodan, etc.

This is only an INTRODUCTION to this art of seeking information, but here’s the core concepts to remember:
– Plan and do some information gathering about related entities before you dive into hard-core researching.
– DOCUMENT WHAT YOU DO! This is critical, so you can go back and narrow down your findings and smartly develop new searches (thus saving time that would otherwise be wasted)
– Do research in a cycle- get related entities, document related entities, dig for information on target, document findings, read through findings, repeat until satisfied.

Following this process is a little more taxing on the mind, but it produces plentiful results and you’re bound to find truth. On top of this, you will also gain the ability to find rare files, books and programs that are hidden deep within the bowels of the internet. For the technically savvy, it is possible to automate this process to find specific things online, using a programming language as simple as Python.

Until Next Time!

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