Your Personal Data In Your Pictures


With the recent capability of every smartphone and digital camera‘s to take a decent picture, everyone is snapping and sharing without thinking too much about it.. hey if you don’t associate your name or email with it no harm done right?  Wrong.  A digital picture contains a lot of information called exif data.  This data is recorded when you take a picture and then again if you upload it to a computer and more data is added if you run it through a program like photoshop.

basic exif data includes:

  • Date and time information. Digital cameras will record the current date and time and save this in the metadata.
  • Camera settings. This includes static information such as the camera model and make, and information that varies with each image such as orientation (rotation),aperture, shutter speed, focal length,metering mode, and ISO speed information.
  • A thumbnailfor previewing the picture on the camera’s LCD screen, in file managers, or in photo manipulation software.
  • Descriptions
  • Copyright information
  • every step you used to edit it in photoshop, this is shown as certain codes, but decipherable using a basic web search.

While this data is okay if you want to see what a person did to take a particular image, some people may want to hide this information.. you know, trade secrets.

Now to the darker side.  Newer devices may have geolocation data on them.  The built in GPS on some devices will automatically add the exact coordinates of where the picture was taken.  This information can be easily extracted using certain tools online.  Most picture hosting sites will scrub this data for you automatically, like facebook, flickr, tumblr, etc.  But if you sent a photo through an email the exif data would still be there. In the wrong hands, this could be dangerous. You can also edit the data using the tools below:

Here you can check photographs exif data online: http://regex.info/exif.cgi  (google chrome extension also available)

and here you can do even more with your pictures of exif data (downloadable freeware):  http://www.sno.phy.queensu.ca/~phil/exiftool/

Protect yourself as much as possible.

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