Geo-Tagging: Is Your Smartphone Telling People Where You Are?Leave a Comment
Location-based tagging is a really cool way of letting friends and family keep track of you. But do we really know who is watching? With the use of social media, such as Facebook and Foursquare, on the rise, security issues associated with them are becoming all too common.
Foursquare, a popular location-based mobile network, allows users to “check-in” at various establishments. The problem with this is you are sharing with the world exactly where you are, and where you aren’t. If you use it to check in at your home, or the home of a friend or relative, you are giving away the address of that home, making it all the easier for potential burglars and home invaders to know where you or someone else lives, and when you are and aren’t home. The same issues arise for those who “check-in” to places on Google+, Facebook, Twitter and other social media networks. Some smart phones and devices automatically insert a line of information with each photo or location tag that can enable someone with moderate computer skills to track you and your location, with out you even telling your device to do so, and many times with out your knowledge.
Aside from potential burglaries and home invasions, this also opens the door to “cyber-stalking.” Your routines, your location, and your friends and family can all be tracked easily. Although this rapid evolution in locational technology does not cause stalking, it definitely makes it much easier.
So how do you protect yourself from these risks? Here are a few tips:
1. Know if your smartphone, laptop or tablet is capable of geo-tagging. Most smartphones are and their default settings are for the geo-tagging to be on. Change the setting so it is not permitted. If you do not know if your device has these capabilities, or how to turn them off, check with your service provider. They will be able to instruct you on disabling this feature.
2. Understand the risks involved if you decide to take advantage of location based networking. Avoid tagging the home of you or a loved one. Never tag photos of children as it can pose a risk for predators.
3. Control who is able to see your location. Most of these social networks allow you to edit your privacy settings. Only allow those you trust to see your location and photos.
4. Make sure your children are aware of the dangers of over sharing information. They can put the entire family at risk just as easily. Make sure to disable this feature on their devices if you do not want them using it.