How can you find someone who is online

Determine yourself on the Internet

Thorsten Eggeling

There is information about anything and everything on the Internet - you just have to find it. This can usually be done using standard search engines, but often only special services deliver optimal results.

EnlargeYou can already do intensive research with Google, which often produces more results than you expected.
© iStockphoto.com/alija

In the Criminal Investigation Department, detectives usually only need a few minutes to find out where a suspect is, job and bank account. In real life it doesn't happen that fast - at least not yet. After all, data protection is taken so seriously in Germany that personal data cannot be easily accessed via the Internet. In countries like the USA, you can sometimes find out much more. However, services that provide information on criminal offenses, bank debts or residence are usually chargeable.

But even without spending money, a lot of information about people and companies can be determined. The prerequisite for this is that this information has somehow reached the Internet, either through the people themselves or in other ways. With a few tricks you can access a lot of data using a standard search engine like Google. But there are also special search engines that are better suited for individual tasks. The article here describes the best way to search for optimal results, but also shows the limits you may encounter.

1. Search for people on the Internet

An obvious form of investigative work begins with any search engine. The market leader Google is just as suitable for this as Bing or Duckduckgo. A meta search engine such as Metager can also be used. This allows you to use several search engines at the same time.

All you have to do is search for your first and last name. The search engines mentioned take both terms into account, so they show pages in the result that contain the first name or the last name. However, pages that contain both search terms are preferred first. The weighting also depends on how important or relevant the search engine considers a page to be. Xing, Facebook, Stayfriends and Wikipedia therefore appear first. As with all searches, it also plays a role whether the search term occurs in the domain name, the URL or the page title or only in the text of the page.

As a result, Google and Bing often also offer different spellings of names, such as "Günter" and "Günther" or "Stefan" and "Stephan". If you want to search for a specific spelling, put your first and last name in quotation marks. Depending on how you put the parts of the name together in quotation marks, this has a different effect. As a result, only websites will appear that contain both terms in exactly this spelling and order. "Fritz Müller" therefore gives different results than "Müller, Fritz".

Naturally, particularly common names also provide many sources. In this case, it makes sense to add additional terms that describe a person in more detail. Places, job titles, middle names, academic titles or sports are conceivable.

Browser Detective: Using History Effectively

Use people search engines: Special aggregators have the advantage that all information is bundled here. Examples are www.123people.com or www.yasni.de. What is displayed here for a person can also be found via standard search engines, but not on one page. Yasni, for example, shows finds on Amazon, Stayfriends and Xing, but also from scientific papers, news and videos on a person.

2. Search for people with photos

EnlargeSpecial people search engines like 123people offer all information at a glance. However, the search result is not unique if there are several people with the same name.

Processes for facial recognition in photos are now well advanced, but still far from perfect. It is easy for a human to identify people even on blurred photos. The computer usually fails to recognize the face if the face is not recorded in the profile. Anyone can try out what is possible with Picasa. The program searches the picture collection on the PC and groups photos with faces under "People". You then assign names to individual faces or pictures and Picasa then automatically recognizes - as far as possible - the same person in other pictures.

Find similar motifs: What works on your own PC should actually also go online. So far, however, there is no convincing offer here. Both technical and data protection reasons are likely to be decisive for this. Google offers an image search, but it works in a similar way to the people search. To use this, go to www.google.de and click on "Images" on the right-hand side of the window. Now if you do a search for someone's name, you will get images that may have that person featured. However, this search hardly knows anything about the actual image content and mainly takes into account text around the image, image URLs and image names.

You can also upload images to Google using the camera icon to the right of the search field. Google will then show you motifs that are similar to the one on the uploaded image. The search engine evaluates the shapes and colors in your picture, but face recognition does not take place. With a little luck, the person you are looking for may be there.

Face recognition 0.1: The Chinese search engine Baidu shows how online facial recognition could theoretically work. Use the link above the search field to upload an image from your hard drive. After clicking on the search button, you will first see the uploaded image and below that a line with further images. Click the link above. You will then see a list of similar images. After all, the recognition works so far that at least similar face shapes appear, and often the person you are looking for is even there. In the figure above you can see the search result and the search image in the red frame. George Clooney can be seen twice in the result.

Pictriev promises more success - at least with prominent people. The main purpose of the service is to find celebs who look similar to another person.

Here, too, upload a photo that only shows the section with the face if possible. Shortly afterwards you will receive an analysis of the facial attributes (“male”, “female”, “age”) and a selection of similar people.

Examine other USB sticks safely

3. Find out who owns an Internet domain

EnlargeThe Chinese search engine Baidu provides a number of finds that are similar to the person you are looking for and several hits. But there are also pictures without any resemblance.

Anyone who needs their own internet domain such as pcwelt.de should contact a web host. This not only provides storage space on its servers, but also takes care of the registration of the domain with a semi-official body. DENIC eG is responsible for this in Germany. If you want to find out all the information about a registered domain, you can query the Denic database for the domain name. The corresponding service is called “Whois” and is provided by the domain registrars.

Strictly speaking, "Whois" is an address directory that you can use to find contacts and further information on a domain. When you go to www.denic.de, enter the domain name in the upper right corner of the window in the input field without “. de “appendix, for example pcwelt. Click on "Start query" or press the Enter key. Enter the code for the security query and press "Submit". You will then see the name and address of the domain owner and technical contact person.

Denic only provides information on de-domains. You can query international addresses such as com, edu, net or org via www.denic.de. Click Whois in the navigation bar, enter the full domain name, for example pcworld.com, and click Submit. Depending on which data is stored, the search result contains the name and address of the domain owner, but also telephone and fax numbers.

If you are looking for information on a specific IP number, you can query the database at the Ripe Network Coordination Center. Enter the IP number at the bottom right of the window under “RIPE Database” and click on “Search”. Since an IP number or a range of numbers always belongs to a certain data center, Ripe provides information about the operator. If you move the mouse over the area on the right in the first section of the results list, you will usually see the "More Info from RIPEstat" button here. You can use this to call up further data on the respective data center, for example to display the location on a map. The information under "Anti Abuse" is interesting. Here is an email address to which you can complain if you have received spam via this IP address or if you find objectionable content on the associated website.
Tip: Another search service for IP addresses is www.ip-adress.com. Click here on “Reverse IP” to search for an IP number. The service also provides detailed information on addresses from Asia, some of which Ripe does not offer.

4. Where did the email come from in my mailbox?