Gregory Evans, CEO of Hi-Tech Crime Solutions
ATLANTA -- One of the biggest news stories of the year is about the government tracking Americans, on their phones and on-line, in the name of national security and stopping terrorists.
But many people still don't realize how much personal information they are putting on-line, all the time.
As a result, criminals and ex-spouses and other cyber-stalkers continue to track where they are, and where their children are.
And they're able to do it every day, because many who love to take pictures with smart phones, and post the photos on social media, and email them, are still not turning off the location-tracking option on their smart-phone's camera.
After all the warnings, and after all the advice about how to prevent the embedded, location-tracking information from getting into their smart-phone photos, people continue to post the most personal location information along with those photos.
"We don't realize that we're giving information out freely to people, just by taking a simple picture," said Gregory Evans, the CEO of Hi-Tech Crime Solutions in Atlanta. "They can read that data [embedded in the photo] and then they can map exactly where you live, where you work, where you go to church, where you hang out at, where your mother's house is.... Depending on where you were when you took the pictures."
Evans is incredulous that so many people still don't get it.
He is a big fan of the positive uses of location tracking software in hobbies and in commerce and in navigation and in other areas, but he continues to see people, through their own neglect or ignorance, fail to protect themselves from those who use it to victimize others.
On one popular, social-media app on Tuesday evening, for example, a father was displaying his toddler's photo on a map of where they were.
It's an app that is used by smart phone users who want others to see where they are.
But the app not only showed where the father and toddler were, it also linked to all of the father's on-line photos, and each photo, with or without his knowledge, could then be converted into a map showing every place he and his son go -- their favorite spot on their favorite playground, the food court at a mall, the boy's daycare center, their home.
"If you have a child predator in the area," Evans said, "he can see all the kids that are in his vicinity at that time, and exactly where they are. You're helping the bad guy out.... You get someone who's broken up with they're boyfriend, their girlfriend.... now they can sit behind a computer, around the world, and they can map exactly where you are at all times. And you're giving out that data. That's what people don't understand. We're voluntarily giving out that type of information."
Evans is all the more incredulous that so many people don't realize how quick and easy the solution is.
On an iPhone, for example, go into "settings," then "privacy," then "location services." Then switch the location settings to "off" on your camera and on any other apps you choose.
Evans also recommends adjusting your privacy settings on Facebook and other social media, because even without posting photos, just checking in from your cell phone can tell people exactly where you are throughout the day.
You don't want your kids inadvertently showing others their favorite playgrounds, so, he said, take control of the location-tracking app on all your families' smart phones.