Risks of geotagging on your photos

Posted: August 4, 2014 in Articles
Tags: , ,

geotaggingMost smartphones these days have a camera as standard and they are becoming more and more advanced to compete with digital cameras. It also makes it much easier to share your photos and information via social networks instantly, as they can be uploaded directly from your phone. Newer digital cameras are now being developed to include these features as well, ensuring there is an easy way to access and share your photos.

When these photos are uploaded, they automatically contain geotags as part of the file. This enables you to pinpoint the exact location the photo was taken, as well as the date and time. It includes the longitude and latitude coordinates in the photograph to give an accurate location. These geotags add geographical information and identification to photos, videos, website links and SMS messages. The 10 digit grid coordinates are embedded into the file and can easily be accessed with the right software and tools.

These can pose a potential threat to you and your family from malicious individuals and criminals. For example if you are photographing valuables within your home or showing off your latest purchase, this tips of thieves and burglars to what they can find in potential break ins to your property. This is especially dangerous if you are alerting people to your upcoming holiday or trip, indicating that your home will be empty and vulnerable to thieves.

Warning - geotagging

Photographs of children are especially dangerous if geotagged as they can easily giveaway where they live, as well as their regular schedule of school, hobbies and after school clubs they attend. If you often upload these photos you can give criminals and attackers an opportunity to establish a pattern in your regular activities and present a chance to set up an attack or exploit a vulnerable situation.

When considering these risks, it is important to evaluate who has access to the platforms you regularly post photos and information to. Consider if you know and trust all the people within your social networks and are happy for them to access this information about you and your family.

If you are unsure or unhappy about this information being available online, it is important to restrict access to your platforms or simply switch off the geotagging and location feature. This is usually automatically enabled on devices such as digital cameras and smartphones so it is important to learn how and when to switch this off. Many phones will have this option located in the settings menu under location services.

You can also use free EXIF editors to wipe and remove the geotagging information from existing photos online.

For more information and advice on this topic, check out this helpful video from Sec Tech UK.


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