There's a lot we can glean at face value from photos: who's in it, what's going on, and where. But with higher-definition images and apps monitoring your position, people can learn more about your photo — and you — than you might want it to.
What can people gain from your photos?
If your geotagging settings are switched on in your camera or camera app, your images will include location data in your metadata to the exact latitude and longitude. Anyone who has access to your images can quickly extract the metadata and decide where you were when you took the picture.
And with each new phone model becoming clearer with the quality of images, the task of stealing your biometric data is becoming a little easier, especially when it comes to your fingerprints. Real-world cases of identity theft using photographs of fingers are practically non-existent, but potentially someone with a picture of your fingerprint could get into your phone using fingerprints
Eventually, and perhaps most alarmingly, a stalker once discovered the home of an actress in her eyes alone by reflecting and threatening her. While this is incredibly rare, it is still an example of how in the most unexpected ways images can provide data.
How to make your photos more secure
Strip the Metadata
A photo taken on your phone contains data from Exchangeable Image File (EXIF) defining photo encoding as well as other image details such as location data.
The best way to remove this metadata is to disable geotagging on your phones to avoid tracking them first.
You can delete it retroactively via free and open-source software if your images have location data attached to them. Through simply flipping a button in its Preferences, you can delete the location if you store your photos on Google photos.
You can also encrypt your online data so that they cannot be accessed by outsiders.
Increase security of your photos
If you're already posting your photos online and you don't want to take them down, you can restrict who can access them. Check the account and album privacy settings that you upload to, and restrict access to those that you don't want to see by anyone. Start by changing your Facebook, Instagram and Twitter privacy settings. This will also decrease the chances of having a data leak.
Do not post sensitive photos or ones with sensitive information
Take a second to check the information in the photo before you upload a photo, from location data and people in the images to identifiable information. Would you want all of you to know about this information?
Reducing images with sensitive information entirely, if not deleting them, can also reduce somebody's chances of finding out where you are. It may be a bummer, but the only way to prevent people from following you more closely than you would like is to stop posting or removing photos, or privatize public photos already.
Removing location metadata, limiting access to your account, and reducing the number of images you share on your page is a good practice for anyone who wants to take more control over who can see what they post online, and the information hidden in the metadata.
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