A Picture Tells a Thousand Words
“Taking pictures with your phone can reveal your location”
ICanStalkU.com is a site that’s raising awareness about Geo-Tagging features available on most smart phones. Geo Tagging is the process of adding geographic location data in the form of latitude and longitude inside of images. The location of where the pictures were taken is encoded, enabling anyone to whom you send them to extract that location by looking it up on Google Maps. Many smart phones, including the popular I Phone, enable this feature by default. Scared yet? The advantage is that we can use this overlooked feature to track clients. Many providers request pictures of clients for screening. Many of those pictures are taken using smart phones.
I use a simple Firefox plugin called Exif Viewer whenever I need to check the location of a photo on the internet. When you view a photo online or receive one in your mail box in Firefox, view the photo in its natural size by right-clicking on the photo and selecting ‘view image’. If you have installed the Firefox plug in, you can right click on the photo and select ‘view image exif data’. If there is any location data embedded inside the photo, the plug in will let you know and you can scroll down to view the results and then link it to Google Maps. Once in Google Maps, you can go to street view and check the whereabouts of the photo to see if the location might raise a red flag.
This feature is a stalker’s wet dream come true
On the other hand, if you send impromptu pictures to clients, make sure the files do not contain any location data. You can go to the aforementioned website and check for yourself. People upload their photos on Twitter all the time, unknowingly and dangerously revealing their location. Ever try to hunt down the location of a photo uploaded in an online classified ad?
The ICanStalkU website also provides instructions on how to turn off this advanced feature on your phone. Make sure you don’t accidently leak your location. For older photos, try Geotag Security. It removes the location information inside your photos.
Next time you receive or send pictures from clients, you know what to do.
Vivian Ng, Guest Author for Geisha Diaries & Volunteer Staff for VerifyHim.com