This FAQ page is a digest of questions about axe10 that were e-mailed to Axeten, along with the answers we supplied. For FAQs on the Cloud platform, go here.
1. Choice of Browser
A1.1. axe10 does not run on Chrome.
Chrome is an exceptionally good browser but there are safer ways to perform safe OSINT research.
Don't take our word for it!
A1.2.axe10 is not a browser, its a browser extension. A browser is a simple desktop application.
A browser has to be used to conduct online internet investigations, which provide access to many OSINT sources & resources.
A1.3. Depends how you define 'safe'. Technically Chromium is safe, but for OSINT research, we understand that it is not safe.
Check out these links:-
This one is more tech, but it demonstrates that the code behind Chromium makes a lot of connections with Google.
305, to be precise.
When an OSINT researcher uses Chromium, activity might be leaking to the beneficial owner of the Chromium project.
As for axe10 on Chromium, sorry to say, but its not going to happen. An axe10 extension for Chromium would allow the extension to be installed on forks of the Chromium browser.
Reputationally, there is too much risk for Axeten to release axe10 for Chromium.
A1.4. https://restoreprivacy.com/secure-browser/ advise that there are privacy concerns with Chromium based browsers, with the exception of Brave.
A1.5. Good question! Three reasons why Axeten has not developed the axe10 app as a Chrome extension.
1. Privacy. Chromium browsers might leak activity, Firefox doesn't leak.
2. GDPR. Chrome is an excellent browser, it allows for rapid rendering of a page, so it can be saved as an off-line archive.
If we had made a Chrome extension, allowing a customer user to download and save personal information about people that are connected with the subject of an investigation on, for example, a Facebook page, where those other people that might be no part of the investigation, and where there is no legal basis to download and store that personal info, axe10 would allow the user to contravene the GDPR.
Our customer might receive a large fine from the ICO for contravening the GDPR. At Axeten, we know we are safe. Our customer users won't get inadvertent exposure while using axe10 with Firefox.
3. Be diligent. As an OSINT researcher, you should keep your general web activity well separated from your OSINT research.
We recommend you should use Brave for general web activity and Firefox for OSINT work. This way, pages that are not part of an investigation will not, by error, find their way into an investigation. Very unprofessional and embarrassing if it happens!
4. Stay safe with all of your on-line activity, do not use other Chromium based Browers.
A1.6. Ask your Sys Admin to check out other FAQs on this page, and hope they think again. If not, escalate the issue to your compliance officer or legal counsel, so that you are not responsible for decision that might compromise your company.
A1.7. Brave is a great browser. It is a fork of Chromium that has effectively addressed many privacy issues common to other Chromium based browsers. As for axe10 on Brave. Sorry to say, but that is not going to happen. An axe10 extension for Brave would be hosted on the Chrome Web Store and could be installed on the Chrome browser. axe10 on Chrome would invite all the privacy issues that Axeten, and our customers, are able to avoid, because we use axe10 on Firefox.
2. Firefox Browser Permissions & axe10 Connection Issues
A2.1. Short Answer: This is safe. Accept them.
Long Answer: Here is an explanation of the permissions requirements.
1. Access your data for all websites:
Required to allow the user to extract website data into an axe10 case, while performing actions such as webpage archiving, extracting a Facebook id or other actions required during the research process.
2. Download files and read and modify the browser’s download history:
Required to generate/export case bundle; remove axe10 case bundle export history entries, as it clutters up the download history listing (can be 100s of files in one export added to downloads history)
3. Access browsing history:
Removes certain axe10 add-on specific urls from navigation history (eg: popup panel urls)
4. Display notifications to you:
Required to display notifications when axe10 (successfully or not) performs certain actions such as grabbing a Facebook id, archiving webpages, etc.
5. Access browser tabs:
Required for opening tabs (axe10 related (like the generated report tab) or search options linking to websites)
6. Store unlimited amount of client-side data:
Required for storing case data locally
More info from Mozilla
A2.2. If you can't connect to axe10, go to the Privacy & Security settings in Firefox.
Make sure that under "History" the setting "Firefox will"
- is NOT set up to "Never Remember History"
- or if "Use custom settings for History" is selected, the option "Always use private browsing mode" is NOT checked
3. Tor Browser & the Dark Web
A3.1. a default setting in Tor has to be changed. Uncheck "use private mode" and axe10 will work with Tor
A3.2. No proxy required. The Tor browser is a fork of Mozilla Firefox. axe10 installs on Tor, just like it does for Firefox.
A4.1. No. VAT is not included in the published price.
The Paypal payment system charges £100/licence/year plus VAT at 20%.
Entities in Europe, that are not VAT registered, including private individuals shall be charged £10 on top of the product price.
The value of the VAT, £10 is applied to the price and cannot be deducted.
Any buyer from outside of Europe, should use the form here to recover the VAT paid with an on-line purchase.
Businesses in Europe that are VAT registered might wish to recover the VAT from Axeten
but also, they can recover the VAT on their next VAT return.
A4.2. Contact Axeten using the form here.
Discounts are available on volume purchases and induction training is included free for a purchase of 10 and more licences.
Expenses might be charged.
A4.3. Currently, axe10 is a 'self-hosted' extension. But because axe10 Lite is now free, we do plan to publish; on addons.mozilla.org
5. axe10 & OSINT Research Processes
A5.1. As you are an insurance company, you are obliged to comply with the GDPR. Where you archive a page on a corporate website, there is unlikely to be a GDPR issue. However, where you archive a page from a social media platform, there are GDPR implications. The page might include posts and 'likes' from users that are not the subject of your investigation. You have no legal basis to store information about any person that is not the subject of your investigation.
To be sure, you should take advice from your Compliance Officer or Legal Counsel. Pass the responsibility for your investigation policy to the appropriate department, so that you are not held responsible in the event of an ICO investigation.
A5.2. As a UK Law Enforcement Agency, you have to comply with RIPA 2000 Section3 and the IPA2016. Be really careful about the wording of the authority you receive. For sure, you can archive pages that relate to the subject of your investigation, but what happens if the person you research has the same name as your subject, but is not your subject?
It is unlikely that your authority will extend to, for example, all people called John Smith.
Chances are, the authority will only permit you to archive data relating to the subject. The LED might permit the storage of some collateral personal data, but be careful, step outside of the Directive and a defence counsel might have your prosecution thrown out on that, 'technicality'.
Why do you want to archive anyway? Lets assume you do have the authority to archive safely, the data is in a flat file. Do you have the capability to extract the personal data into an intelligence analysis application?
We recommend you stay safe, conduct effective OSINT and Social Media research, by taking appropriately annotated screenshots of legitimate evidence, and deliver a legally safe Case Bundle for prosecution.
An agency policy that allows you to archive pages on social media platforms exposes your agency to risk that is not necessary, where good OSINT research protocols are followed.
A5.3. Short answer: Yes!
Long Answer: Within the axe10 Audit Log, every page visited is recorded and time-stamped.
axe10 keeps a count of the number of times a page is visited. So that each time a visit to the same page is recorded, the total number of visits is aggregated.
This is reported in the Detailed View of the Audit Log, in the Actions and Statistics column.
A5.4. Short answer: Yes!
Long Answer: When a search using a common search-engines or other common database is initiated from within axe10, the search string is automatically recorded by axe10.
While performing an on-line enquiry with axe10 open, and therefore recording the activity, a researcher might use any search engine or other database, with a direct input of a search string.
axe10 cannot detect the search string that the researcher uses, but, axe10 does provide an input field for the researcher to copy, then paste, the search string used.
This way, axe10 keeps a record of the search strings used by the researcher.
6. axe10 Disclosure Capacity
A6.1. Short Answer: Yes!
Unused material is any material that has been gathered into axe10 but is not included in the report.
axe10 generates a separate report that details all of the unused material.
The Unused Material report is saved to the Report Folder in the Case Bundle, and the file is hashed to prevent tampering.
A6.2. Short Answer: Yes!
Long Answer: All evidence that has been marked as sensitive, either during the research process, or at a later review, is itemised in the sensitive material report.
A6.3. Short answer: Yes!
Long Answer: In axe10 LE it is not possible to delete anything. If a case bundle is accessed outside of axe10 and evidence is deleted, the next time the Case Bundle is opened with axe10, the fact that some files are missing will be detected. The missing files will display as a hashes conflict.
The matter should be escalated to the SIO.
axe10 CVL is different. Files can be deleted, but a record of the deletion is made in the Audit Log.
A6.4. Short Answer: Yes!
Long Answer: Copy and paste any search that you use into axe10.