Everytime you take a photo, your device will store that in an image format for you to enjoy however this isn’t the only information that will be saved. Embedded into that file will also be a range of metadata which in the wrong hands can be used by others to extract specific data for their own purposes. In this blog post I will go in depth into what this metadata is, what it contains and how to remove it.
EXIF stands for exchangeable image file and is a format for metadata that is added onto every image that you take. Ever transferred your images to a computer only to wonder how it knows when you’ve taken them? That’s where EXIF data comes in as it contains a lot of specifics about the image in question with some examples being:
- Date and time when it was taken
- Camera info: eg shutter speed, ISO, flash etc
- Name and model of the device that captured the image
- Resolution and quality
- GPS coordinates of where the image was taken
As you can see, simply taking an image creates quite a digital footprint secretely embedded within with some of this information being quite dangerous if someone was to take advantage of it. Simply sending someone an image you took of your cat at home could allow a person with malicious intent to find your address.
The scenario above isn’t exactly plausible since nearly all of us use apps like Instagram or Messenger to communicate with others. These apps will strip the EXIF data from the images making you “safer” though now the companies have that data for themselves. This allows them to learn a lot about their users which doesn’t sound too harmful until you sit down and think what they can do with such a database of information like tracking or advertising.
Now that you know what EXIF data is you probably want to know how to remove it. The good thing is you can erase this metadata from your images quite easily as there are quite a few sites that allow you to upload your images and download a clean version of them. One such site is https://www.verexif.com/en/. Whilst doing so, check out the data found in your images and see for yourself just how much info they contain.
I hope you found value in this blog post. It gets progresively tougher to maintain your privacy in this day and age however you still have the chance to take control of your data and prevent companies from stockpiling it in their databases.