EXIF Data – Are Your Sharing Too Much?

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EXIF Data - Are Your Sharing Too Much?

EXIF Data. EXIF stands for ‘Exchangeable Image File Format’ and refers to the basic metadata that is generated and stored by your camera whenever you take a photo.

You can’t see it, but it is there

It’s called “metadata” – or data about data, for cameras, it is know as EXIF data

In this case, it is part of the camera’s design

It will publish all sorts of interesting data about the photo and the camera.

But the real threat is the GEOTAG or the data that was captured using the camera or phone’s GPS.

And this data can prove to be very dangerous.

In 2012 the U.S. Army was embarrassed to find that a photo from a soldier who had EXIF data turned on was used to destroy attack helicopters in Iraq

Adam from Myth Busters

Adam from the TV series MythBusters was embarrassed when he had left EXIF data turned on when he posted a photo of his vehicle. And then someone used that data to steal his vehicle.

Testing the theory

I was able to find a photo that had EXIF data contained in it (there is an app for that). I then tested the theory of seeing if I can locate the person in the photo. There are several apps for this and there are even several online websites (Jeffrey’s Blog) that do it very well.

Using Jeffrey’s blog, I uploaded the image and the above is what I got back. It includes Latitude and Longitude, which can be translated into a location. Jeffrey’s blog includes links to popular mapping websites.

Jeffrey’s blog even presents the location on the map for you. The red square above is the location where the photo was taken.

You can then turn that into an address with an aerial photo for comparison.

And there you have it, now if you want to take it further, you can use a real estate website to find out what school the subject of the photo likely goes to.

How accurate it is?

I wanted to do a real-world test to see how accurate EXIF and GEO tagging actually are. I took the below photo one afternoon and then uploaded it to Jeffrey’s blog to see where was placed the photo.

Sure enough, it nailed it, I was standing about 5 feet from where it put the pin on the map. That is accurate enough for most applications.

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