18:30 - 19:00
Metadata Investigation: Inside Hacking Team

Short thesis

This story is about the power of Metadata.
In some kind of reverse engineering process we explored the possibility of using NSA data analysis methodology for an independent data investigation of the Hacking Team email metadata.
There is an ongoing debate over the significance of metadata. We wanted to question а somewhat heretical argument that bulk metadata contain sensitive information about private life of internet users and confront it with a ruling opinion that such statement is overrated. We have therefore undertaken the following social and scientific experiment using different methodologies. The purpose of this research is to investigate and consequently inform the scientific and popular audience about the real importance of metadata for our privacy.


In our ongoing data  investigation, we are exploring more than 1 million emails from the Hacking Team leak database published by Wikileaks. We are analyse the metadata of those emails and try to get a deeper insight into the invisible network of government agencies, cyber weapon dealers, and manufacturers and their investors.

Until this moment using the available metadata in the said database we have succeeded to map, analyse, visualise and explore:

The internal organisational structureCommunication flows within organisation;A map of  main partner organisations, dealers, clients and individuals;The behavioral patterns of the main actors within the organisation and anomalies thereof;Their movement around globe;The technology that they use.We are  using similar methods as various intelligence and security agencies around globe for citizens’ metadata analysis. We believe that us being a  watchdogs of a sort should imply that we use the same methods to surveill them back, pinpoint their wrongdoings, corruption and understand how their invisible network works and tell the World what we have learned.

The general idea is to conceptualise a methodology that will help investigative journalists explore vast amounts of metadata and spot the main points of interest for their future investigations using available free and open software for investigation, data analysis, network topology, data visualization and design.

The final output of this research can be found here http://labs.rs/en/metadata/