Letter Re: OPSEC Issue: Geotagging on Pictures from Smart Phones

Thursday, Dec 9, 2010

Dear Mr. Rawles,

With the proliferation of smart phones, as well as advanced cameras with GPSs installed, people may be giving away more information than they intend to when they snap and distribute pictures. This can be an operational security (OPSEC) issue.

Embedded in the Exchangeable Image File (EXIF) data on the picture, the GPS coordinates of the picture location may be stored for anyone to access. This is especially a problem as people post these pictures online (for social networking, emailing to friends/family, or for online sales, etc.).

This embedded GPS data can reveal the exact location of your home, work, and enable an individual with nefarious intent to build a profile of your movements. A threat to OPSEC to say the least!

Adam Savage, co-host of the popular television program "Mythbusters" inadvertently did exactly this.

Tech gurus and electronics manufacturers are touting it with that famous line - "It's not a bug, its a feature"

Accessing the data is exceedingly simple if you know that its there.

At least the U.S. military has recognized the OPSEC threat that this geolocation data represents on phones and cameras.

Stay safe, - Christopher T.


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