Is Your Digital Camera Displaying More Personal Data Than You Know?

Taking pictures has always been an activity that people loved to do. The practice became even bigger when the automatic instant camera came onto the scene. No more did you have to wait to get your photos developed. You could now just snap the button and you had a quality picture right there in your hand. Now things have changed a bit but the love of taking photos is still there. Instead of people taking pictures and getting them developed, they now take pictures and place them into digital storage.

The digital storage can be anywhere. When you take a picture you can place it on your hard drive or even a portable USB device. There are even key chains that allow you to display multiple digital photos. No matter which way you choose, you can always get to see your picture later through the use of a computer. You can even store your photos on the many different web sites that allow it. This includes sites like Facebook, Twitpic, and Flickr. So as you can see, the rise of digital photography is partly because of the many advantages that it offers. But beware; there is a dark side to the world of digital photography as well. A side that if you had a motivated enough black hat hacker can lead to you losing money, your name, and your credit.

Is Your Digital Camera Displaying More Personal Data Than You Know

The dark side of digital photos

The one thing that a lot of people do not realise when it comes to digital photos is that you leave a piece of data about you every time that you take a picture. And depending on the device that you use, you can also leave personal data about yourself as well.

There is a format that is known as EXIF that is a standard used by all digital cameras. This information allows any device that is connected to your camera to get information about it and the picture that you just took. An example of the type of information that it stores includes manufacturer, model, time and date, resolution and a lot more data. But some of the digital cameras that are out today are becoming more advanced and offer more data than what I listed above. This new data includes a name that you might have stored in the camera, an email address, your geo location, and other information that you may or may not have given it. This is all information that gets stored inside of the photos that you take and any software that was built to read that data will expose it.

But it gets even more dangerous when you are talking about photos that are taken with today’s modern smart phones. They can tell a lot more about you than the information that I just listed. On your smart phone you have a lot more personal data listed about yourself and there is a chance that some of this data is being stored in the EXIF file. One of the ways that more personal data is stored in this type of format is because there is a lot of picture taking apps on a smart phone these days. These apps do a lot of things. You can check into your location, create funny pictures, tell a picture story of your data, take a picture for search purposes and the list goes on. For some of these types of applications to work properly you must give more data than a normal camera would.

How the bad guys can use this information

So I showed you the different ways that the bad guys can get the information that is taken in the actual picture. And I also showed you what information they do receive when they do decide to take a look at it with the right software. But what can they actually do with this information once they have it? It is pretty simple actually. If they have your location and your name, they can pretty much open up a fake account in your name. If they have that much information about you, the next step that they can take is to try and trick you out of your national insurance/social security number. If they do not trick you out of it they can go looking for it themselves. These days it is not as hard as it used to be to get someone else’s social security number. This is only one of the many bad things that they can do with the information that they get from a photo that shares too much information.

If you are using a digital camera to take pictures then make sure that you know what information is being stored in the EXIF file. You do not want any personal information leaked that you are not aware of. This goes double if you are using a smart phone camera. With the amount of apps that allow you to do weird things with your photos you are never sure of what information is being shared.

About Lee Munson

Lee's non-technical background allows him to write about internet security in a clear way that is understandable to both IT professionals and people just like you who need simple answers to your security questions.

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