Exposed – Geolocation Dangers and You

Exposed – Geolocation Dangers and You

On the Internet nobody knows you’re a dog.

You’ve heard that saying before, right? Well, nobody may know you’re a dog on the Internet, but through the magic of GPS-enabled gadgets, they may know where you’re located.

With today’s advances in technology and all of the swanky new things we can do with our gadgets, the dangers of geolocation are something many people don’t realize. Slowly but surely, more creeps and criminals are using technology to find victims, and GPS-enabled devices are helping them out in a big way.

Here are a few prime places where geolocation information can creep up, and why you don’t want it to show itself:

  • Your Cell Phone or Digital Camera:

    If possible, turn off any location-aware abilities, especially for pictures or any media that’s made publicly available. Exif information (which can include GPS data) can be included in pictures in some of the new/popular smartphones (iPhone and Android people, I’m talking to you), and that’s a prime example of geolocation danger waiting to happen.

    It’s not a big deal to geocode (e.g. add the GPS data) a picture you take in a store, or a restaurant, but if you’re hanging around the house or taking a picture of your kids at school, the last thing you want is to let strangers have the GPS location of those places.

  • Your Social Networks:

    Just say no to showing where you are. If you want to let people know how much fun you’re having someplace, do it after the fact. For example, if you’re going on vacation, don’t announce it on Facebook or Twitter before you go; wait until you’re back. The plus side is that you’ll be able to show off your pictures and videos, too.

    For the same reason you don’t want your geolocation revealed publicly to strangers through your pictures, you don’t want to do it on your social networks. Keep personally identifiable information safe from prying eyes.

By the way, the EFF has a great article and PDF download on living with, but not being hampered by, geolocation services and tools.

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About Jon

Jon has worked in the tech industry since the pre-Bubble dotcom days and still has a 1200 Baud modem somewhere in his garage. When he's not advocating the use of strong passwords and being smart about social media, he's working on finding new ways to convince his wife that bacon is a vegetable which should be eaten with every meal.