12.06.2019

Sharing an innocent picture can give away your childs location.

One of the most interesting topics and the one that raises the most discussion in our Free Online Safety Session that we deliver to parents is the information that can be gathered by sharing photos online. Let us first show you what information can be gathered.

We were delivering an Online Safety Session at a school recently and I have taken a photo, as I always do, of the hall all setup where we deliver the session. This is the photo in question 

There isn’t a lot that you can gather from looking at the picture…however if I take the picture and load it into webpage that will get the metadata or EXIF information out of the picture (metadata is a set of data that describes and gives information about other data) this is where it gets interesting.

So I loaded the picture that I took into a freely available website that allows me to extract the metadata, the site is http://exif.regex.info/exif.cgi but there are other sites and tools available to extract this data.

This is the information that came back is shown below however the piece we are interested in is the highlighted part…this gives me the exact location that the photo was taken.

If I then click on “Google” after the “Map via embedded coordinates at” this gives me the exact location that the photo was taken.

 

 

Now imagine for a moment that someone grooming a child online persuaded that child to take a picture from within their house or the playground they regularly play in, a seemingly innocent picture of their favourite book or a favourite poster on their wall or their favourite playground activity. The child will see that there is no personal information in that picture and will think nothing of sending that picture to someone. Once the groomer receives the picture, they can then load that picture into a web page and find the exact location that the picture was taken. As you can imagine they can them use this information to get the child to send more pictures to them under threat.

You can go into your child’s device and choose to not share location information when using the camera, it’s fairly easy

See https://www.igeeksblog.com/disable-geotagging-for-photos-on-iphone-ipad/ for how to do it on an iPhone and https://www.howtogeek.com/303410/how-to-prevent-android-from-geotagging-photos-with-your-location/ on how to do it on Android.

One important point that the igeeksblog site makes is “Also note that this disabling only works within the stock camera app. Other apps that access camera (like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Camera+, Whatsapp) will still be able to tag location data to your photos. This is because these apps might have the permission to use your camera and your location data (and the apps can club both.)

If you want to be Snowden and keep privacy a top priority, you might want to disable location services completely (which will, of course, affect your Maps and GPS experience.)”

Some apps will strip this information out to protect your privacy when you upload a photo but a lot will not. You can either disable location services completely or go into the Location Services and choose what apps can use location services and when they can use it, see https://www.lifewire.com/turn-on-mobile-location-services-4156232 for details. An example of the location services for iPhone is shown below.

Please make sure you talk to your children so they understand why they shouldn’t share pictures with people they do not know. You could even use the website in this article to show them how you can tell where a picture was taken.

If you would like to organise a FREE online safety session for children or parents at your school, scout group, sports club, parents group then please contact us on here or email info@inetguardian.co.uk.

Using iNet Guardian can help keep your family safe. In using iNet Guardian you can help your family stay safer online by ensuring they only visit age appropriate websites, set times that the device can access the Internet and also how much time (within a 24 hour window) can be spent online. The service also blocks phishing sites, which are sites which purport to be sites that they are not i.e. fraudulent financial sites with the view to gaining access to your financial information.

Visit https://inetguardian.co.uk or more information and to sign up for a free 30 day trial.