CYBERSECURITY FACT SHEET: Geotagging

Feb. 13, 2018

What is geotagging?

  • Geo-tagging is adding geographic identification to photographs, videos, websites, and SMS messages. It’s like tagging a precise map grid coordinate to everything you post on the Internet.
  • Geo-tags may automatically be embedded in pictures taken with smartphones, but many people are unaware that those photos have been tagged before they post them online.
  • Photos posted to photo sharing sites like Flickr may also be tagged with their locations.
  • Posting photos tagged with an exact location allows others to track your exact location and correlate it with other information.   
 
Geo-tagging photos
  • Photos have used geo-tagging for quite some time. Some formats such as JPEG format allow geographic information to be embedded within the image that can be read by picture viewers.
  • Owners should study their cameras’ manuals to learn whether their devices automatically add geolocation metadata to pictures and understand how to turn off those functions.
  • On photo sharing sites, people can tag a location on their photos, even if their camera does not. A simple search for “Afghanistan” on Flickr reveals thousands of location tagged photographs that have been uploaded.
  • Soldiers deploy to areas all over the world. Some locations are public, others are classified. Soldiers should not upload geo-tagged photos. Publishing photos of classified locations can be detrimental to mission success, and in violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

 

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