Dispatch from the Head Sherpa

Smartphones and Privacy Issues

We have all heard about checking and our privacy settings on various social media sites and outlets – but even if you do these things, do you realize that the metadata (embedded) data in the pictures that your phone takes could put you at risk for disclosing personal locations, such as home address, daycares/schools and favorite places to hang out?

Many applications that we use daily are based on upon geotagging, or embedded location information – it tells our devices how close or far we are to the things we are looking for. However, as with most information-based services, if it gets into the wrong hands, it can put your privacy at risk. What most people don’t realize is that this information is automatically added to the pictures that our smartphone cameras take. When you upload that picture to a social media site, hackers can easily click on the pictures and almost instantaneously find a GPS location embedded within the information on the picture data.

The safest way to stop this flow of information is to shut off the location-based services on your phone – however, this can break legitimate uses of the GPS – such as maps and navigation services. The good news is that now with some phones, you can disable the geotagging for the camera only. The internet site, I Can Stalk U, has provided a great list of how-tos, so you can disable the geotagging for just about any phone.

If you’re not interested in disabling features on your phone, there are also software applications that can help you by stripping out the metadata before you post online. If you do a search for “metadata remover software” you will find a host of free and paid software options for removing metadata from your phone, laptop or desktop. Same for any of the application stores available for phones.

For more information on how geotagging has gotten out of control, check out this NBC ActionNews Broadcast that put an iPhone’s geotagging capabilities to the test with one of their reporters. See also this New York Times article about Mythbusters’ host, Adam Savage’s unfortunate run-in with geotagging.

Smart phones are great, but it’s important to realize privacy concerns can get rapidly out of control if users are unaware of how their flow of information is being directed. MySherpa takes your privacy very seriously – and we’re always here to help. If your company has concerns about smartphones and privacy issues, do yourself a favor and get in touch with us today. We’ll help you protect your data and give you peace of mind.


Leave a comment!

You must be logged in to post a comment.