Over 50% of relationships now come into being over the internet. Most of those relationships result in happy partnerships, and even marriages! This very positive trend has unfortunately also brought with it a new feature of infidelity: 50% of affairs now begin over the internet too.
No longer does a spouse have to leave the house, go to a bar, or make moves that would indicate manifestly that they are cheating, or considering cheating in the early stages of an on-line fling. Instead all that might be noticed is a slight increase in on-line activity and the general sense that something is starting to go ‘wrong’ in the relationship. There are a number of easy to spot warning signs that will tell you if your spouse is engaged on ‘secret’ activities on the internet:
- Moving the computer to a ‘private’ area of the house where you can’t see what they are doing
- Rapidly shutting down documents, windows or messenger programs when you enter the room
- Spending an increasing amount of time on the internet without a valid explanation
- Sitting up late at night using the computer without a valid explanation
- Acquiring a new web-cam, or buying a web-cam for the first time
- The history on the web browser has been deleted recently (when it never normally is)
- Messenger software that used to ‘login’ automatically at start up, no longer does
- You notice new e-mail addresses, or logins in the internet history
- When asked why the computer is being used so much, no good reason is given
If you notice any three of these warning signs, it’s time to boot up your web browser and begin to do a bit of research.
- Check your internet history, look at what sites have been visited, or if any new e-mail accounts have been logged onto. You’d be amazed how often a spouse will leave a dating site, social network site, or new e-mail address sat right there in the history. If you find a dating site, see if he/she’s still logged in, and look for a user name.
- Check for any new ‘friends’ that have been added to your spouse’s facebook or other social networking account.
- Conduct a social network search: Get yourself over to a site like www.spokeo.com and perform a social network search on your spouse’s e-mail address. It’s not perfect, but it will pull up almost all of the social network accounts that are associated with that e-mail address, including any associated user names. Do this for all known e-mail addresses. A lot of social networking sites won’t let these programs access them, so don’t be afraid to make some dating accounts of your own and do a ‘search by e-mail address’ which is a feature of most sites. You can also do this kind of search on Facebook, and Myspace by just dropping the e-mail into the ‘search’ window. If you notice new ‘secret’ profiles you don’t know about? That’s a warning sign. Look into those profiles, check for public information and see who’s talking to your spouse.
- Google the user names you find (use the advance search feature to search for the specific term i.e. “username”). Also Google specific e-mail addresses in the same way (e.g. “firstname.lastname@example.org”). Do this for all of the known usernames and e-mail addresses you find. Every time you find a new e-mail address linked to a user name, or a new username linked to a known e-mail address, then repeat this step and the step above. TIP: Make sure you correct Google if it starts trying to search for what it thinks you mean, and always make sure it’s searching for the user name, or e-mail you typed in, as you typed it.
- Using the above methods you’ll tend to find profiles for web forums, dating sites, and other such errata that normally don’t appear on Google searches, and who’s talking to your spouse there! Most of the time, they’ll have posted on their ‘wall’.
- If you find someone suspicious, perform the same research above on them and see if your spouse’s name pops up, or any suspicious messages appear on their wall from him, or her.
9 times out of 10 this will be sufficient to locate almost every personal profile that your spouse might have, including the ones you don’t know about!
Just remember to be thorough, be persistent and follow up on leads that you find. Also remember to check your intelligence! Double check that a user name can be attributed to him or her before you jump to any conclusions.
Also remember that checking your spouse’s e-mails (if you have access to them), or installing a key logger onto his or her computer is normally going to be illegal without his or her permission, so make sure you stay on the right side of the law and use good internet research, most commonly called open source intelligence. Most of the time, it’s all that it takes! Using the above method, you’ll either find out that your partner is talking to someone new, or what they’re really up to on-line!
Richard Farley works as a digital investigator in London for Atris Aqua. He specialises in uncovering marital infidelity through the use of only open source intelligence techniques.