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Posting Pictures Online

posting pictures on the internetYour photos might be giving away more personal information than you know! This is why you need to use some OpSec when posting pictures on the internet.

Posting Pictures Online

Today’s hi-powered DSLR Cameras and action cams, like the GoPro, take very high definition, high resolution pictures. These photos may be revealing more than you were expecting to share. Sometimes there is information that you can’t even see!

Exif Data

Cell phones and some digital cameras save the current GPS coordinates, for every photo taken. That GPS data is hard coded into the picture using the Exchangeable image file format (exif) data.

Exif data reveals:

  • File Name
  • Creation Date (when you took the picture)
  • Make (Camera manufacturer)
  • Model (Camera Model)
  • Latitude
  • Longitude
  • GPS Coordinates

exif data

When you post that picture online, email it to someone or text message it, they now have access that all that juicy information.

Creation Date

By itself the Creation Date is probably not too scary.

Who cares when you took that picture?

You might start to care, when that picture was taken, when you marry up the Creation Date with the Location information!

Location

If you post pictures that you took at home, people now know where you live. They can click a button and get directions right to you and your family.

Here you are!

Here you are!

Photographs can reveal more than your home address. It can expose your regular haunts and favorite locations.

Using the Creation Date (Date and Time that the photo was taken) and GPS location encoded into your pictures, a stalker or other miscreant, will have no trouble predicting were you will likely be and when you’ll be there again.

How can you view EXIF Data?

Web-Based Exif Data viewer

Windows XP (and some later Microsoft operating systems)

  1. a subset of the Exif information may be viewed by right clicking on an image file and clicking Properties
  2. On the properties dialog click the Summary tab.
    details

    Windows 7: You should be able to click “Remove Properties and Personal Information” and clean the image from the “Details” tab, but this didn’t work for me. Your mileage may vary.

Windows 7

  1. a subset of the Exif information may be viewed by right clicking on an image file and clicking Properties
  2. On the properties dialog click the Details tab.

Remove the Exif data from your pictures

How do you remove the exif data? You can use a software program on your computer or use a web-based online service.

As always please use your own virus scanner to check anything you download!

Facial Recognition

With today’s technology, it’s simple for people to be automatically identified from pictures posted on the internet. Facial Recognition software can ID you online, in a crowd or in security  camera footage, all in real time, and use that exif location information and embedded time stamps from the pictures to determine where you were and when.

N.S.A. Collecting Millions of Faces From Web Images

FBI May Seek Facebook Data for Facial Recognition

Fingerprints

Digital images are extremely high resolution. If you post pictures of the palm side of your hand (waving, peace sign, thumbs up, etc), it may expose your fingerprints. This may sound extreme, but it’s frightening to see what can be done, once someone has your fingerprints.

 

fingerprintThink the fingerprint in that picture is clear? Click below for a large full resolution image of this fingerprint!

finger-print

If facial recognition is being run against pictures posted online, who’s to say that other groups aren’t running fingerprint checks against pictures of fingers and hands online?

What Else is in the Picture?

Take a few moments to look closely at every photograph you are thinking of posting online.

Ensure nothing is visible that you don’t want to share:

  • Mail with your Home Address
  • Pictures of your credit cards, card numbers, checking account and banking information
  • Your child’s school information (Name of school, etc). Don’t want a stranger trying to pick them up from school!
  • Pictures of your car’s license plate number (blur that out or block it out with image editing software)
  • Objects in the background that might reveal more than you want to share
  • The dirty unmade bed behind you in your bedroom mirror selfie!

 

Posting Pictures Online is how people connect and share their special moments. You can continue to do this! Now you know what data might be leaked and how to remove some of it to give your online life a layer of separation from your physical life, keeping private data private!

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