Geolocation features in cameras are giving thieves new information when someone proudly posts a picture of their new acquisition, whether it's a boat, a flat-screen TV, or a new car, according to an article last week in the New York Times.
Some cameras and smart phones embed location-specific information, such as latitude and longitude, into the metadata, or information, about a picture. Canny thieves can click on the picture, check the metadata, and determine the location of the prize, or just the house or garage full of power tools behind it. Combined with information such as posts about a user’s plans, like “Going on vacation next week with my new boat!,” it provides a to-do list for burglars.
While the geotagging feature can be disabled, it can be complicated, says the Times. “Disabling the geotag function generally involves going through several layers of menus until you find the “location” setting, then selecting “off” or “don’t allow,” the article said. “But doing this can sometimes turn off all GPS capabilities, including mapping, so it can get complicated.”
Browser plugins could enable burglars to use latitude and longitude to plot locations on a Google map. “By downloading free browser plug-ins like the Exif Viewer for Firefox or Opanda IExif for Internet Explorer, anyone can pinpoint the location where the photo was taken and create a Google map,” the Times said.
In fact, burglars with some technical savvy could even search for geotagged photographs accompanied with text like “on vacation” or those taken in a specified neighborhood, the Times said.
Sites such as ICanStalkU.com provide directions on how to shut off the geotagging feature on multiple phones.