Geo-tagging - PLEASE READ

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Geo-tagging - PLEASE READ

Postby YHB » Thu Jan 26, 2012 3:11 am

Many mobile phones including the I-Phone and an increasing number of digital cameras have Geo-Tagging facilities. This technology adds the location of where the picture was taken to the picture file. Anyone with the correct software, including freely available Google Picasa / Google Earth can, with a couple of clicks, view the exact location where the picture was taken.

It is possible for anyone using Google / Earth to fly to the location where the picture was taken and look down on the roof of the property. One click and you are in “street mode” standing outside the front door of the property concerned.

I have been monitoring this site and I have warned anyone that I have seen putting themselves at risk by posting pictures of their still. The reactions have been mixed, but in the main, people have been extremely alarmed that they were unaware that this technology exists, and have acted quickly to rectify the situation.

You may think that where you are no one gives a hoot about your still, you may be right. But this is a world wide community and some members do not have that luxury, living in counties where governments are actively looking for the type of information that some pictures on this site give them voluntarily.

Things that can be done –
On your phone or camera you can switch off the Geo-Tagging option.
If you have existing pictures you can use a suitable program such as Exif Tag Remover Or Google’s Picasa to remove the offending data.
Again, using something like Picasa / Google Earth, change the coordinates of the picture to those of the Mayor’s house.

What ever you do, do not stop sending the pictures - we all enjoy them.

I have raised this now due to the fact that I have recently seen an increase in the number of times this happens.

Please be careful
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Re: Geo-tagging - PLEASE READ

Postby Digital_Plasma » Thu Jan 26, 2012 3:34 am

Brian contacted me about this. Thanks you for the tip Brian! I didn't even know that there was a tracking "device" on the photos! Im not normally a paranoid person, but things like this does something to you in one way or another....
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Re: Geo-tagging - PLEASE READ

Postby Husker » Thu Jan 26, 2012 5:49 am

Is this true, or is this urban legend. If this is true, then the people working here behind the scene can do a little more to try to inform the masses of this, sticky posts, and what not. If not, and this is an urban legend then we will also take action of shutting this thread down.

Now, if it 'is' a valid concern, we may be able to do something behind the scene, to scan all the image we have, flag and find them, and inform people, or simply run something to . However, in doing this, we would only look at images that have been uploaded to the site.

If this a real issue, can someone research some open source software that would run on the freebsd we run the site on, and we can try to scan the files for these signatures. I am also assuming this data would be some type of meta data, outside of the image data, so SW to scrub it off should not impact the image itself.

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Re: Geo-tagging - PLEASE READ

Postby YHB » Thu Jan 26, 2012 6:02 am

I can assure you it is true.

As you correctly point out this is also applicable where members host the pictures on another computer and only place a hyperlink in HD. In this instance HD will not be able to "sanitise" the file.

If anyone wants to prove a point or have something to play with - this picture has the GPS data that will tell you where the Lama is sitting to within 10feet.

DSC03523.JPG
Last edited by YHB on Thu Jan 26, 2012 6:14 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Geo-tagging - PLEASE READ

Postby Large Sarge » Thu Jan 26, 2012 6:07 am

Husker, it depends on how the server accepts photo's. The Geotag is part of the metadata. If a user does not strip the metadata prior to sending it, then yes, they can compromise the location. Cameras with GPS and cell phones attach the location unless the user tells it not to. Not sure on the software side but users, as stated above, should delete or change the location in the metadata prior to uploading them.

Maybe take a look at how the server accepts photos and see if the metadata can be stripped out. Im sure there is a way but how, I am not sure.
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Re: Geo-tagging - PLEASE READ

Postby Large Sarge » Thu Jan 26, 2012 7:09 am

54;32;13.79
1;2;9.59

Didn't plug it in a map though. Taken at f/4.4 with a 1/400 sec shutter at an ISO of 125. Exported from Picasa sampled down to 72dpi to fit on the forum. Taken 6 months ago.
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Re: Geo-tagging - PLEASE READ

Postby John Barleycorn » Thu Jan 26, 2012 7:35 am

Husker wrote:If this a real issue, can someone research some open source software that would run on the freebsd


ExifTool appears to have the features necessary to add/modify/remove GPS tags in exif files. It also appears to be available for FreeBSD. I'm a fedora guy ... so my FreeBSD is basically nil ... and the generic yum repos don't show any support for ExifTool as of FC14. I'll try to dig a little deeper.

I'm not sure how you can get the hook to process the uploaded files ... I'm not familiar with phpBB. I'm assuming you're running Apache. In any case, it might be easiest to just re-write the location tag (if present) with the coordinates for the North Pole or something similar. If no tag is present, there's nothing to do.

Anyway, scary stuff! This stuff always seems to be presented as great _features_ ... but I'm a paranoid white hat ... so I always assume it's little more than another mechanism for big brother.

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Re: Geo-tagging - PLEASE READ

Postby Large Sarge » Thu Jan 26, 2012 7:38 am

YHB, North York Moors National Park? Might have fat fingered it though. Did it while walking.
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Re: Geo-tagging - PLEASE READ

Postby heartcut » Thu Jan 26, 2012 7:41 am

For Android- open camera, open menu, open settings (the 2 gears), scroll to Geo-tag photos and uncheck the box.
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Re: Geo-tagging - PLEASE READ

Postby John Barleycorn » Thu Jan 26, 2012 7:48 am

BTW, if anyone has any doubts, plug the photo URL in to the "Image URL" box
at http://regex.info/exif.cgi
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Re: Geo-tagging - PLEASE READ

Postby Large Sarge » Thu Jan 26, 2012 8:03 am

Dang. I was close, 500 meters from the boundary. Anyway, i think the point has been proven.
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Re: Geo-tagging - PLEASE READ

Postby Texas Jim » Thu Jan 26, 2012 8:20 am

I use tinypic.com to upload photos. Do you know if this strips the location data?
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Re: Geo-tagging - PLEASE READ

Postby Husker » Thu Jan 26, 2012 8:41 am

John Barleycorn wrote:
Husker wrote:If this a real issue, can someone research some open source software that would run on the freebsd


ExifTool appears to have the features necessary to add/modify/remove GPS tags in exif files. It also appears to be available for FreeBSD. I'm a fedora guy ... so my FreeBSD is basically nil ... and the generic yum repos don't show any support for ExifTool as of FC14. I'll try to dig a little deeper.

I'm not sure how you can get the hook to process the uploaded files ... I'm not familiar with phpBB. I'm assuming you're running Apache. In any case, it might be easiest to just re-write the location tag (if present) with the coordinates for the North Pole or something similar. If no tag is present, there's nothing to do.

Anyway, scary stuff! This stuff always seems to be presented as great _features_ ... but I'm a paranoid white hat ... so I always assume it's little more than another mechanism for big brother.

--JB


phpbb is a database driven php script. I know the DB system, I am in there tweaking and editing often. The files (atachment uploads), are all stored simply as a hash number for the file name. The extension, and everything is not part of the file. It is done like that, to disable offsite linkage, or having your forums bandwidth leeched off by someone trying to get free pix hosting.

However, I can run queries directly off the database, figure out what the attachemts are, figure out what your 'owned' them and for what posts. I can easily look at the file magic, to figure out what files are what, scanning for jpg's, png's etc magic tags, totally ignoring the DB. Only, once a file is found, would it be 'scrubbed', which might entail updating the DB some, and possibly informing the user that their pix contained this tracking data, that it was removed from the site, but that they may want to check other public viewable pix they have done.

NOTE, this is not something I can do quickly. I volunteer here, and have been working the last month updating the parent site. I will look into this, but it may not be an 'instant' fix.

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Re: Geo-tagging - PLEASE READ

Postby John Barleycorn » Thu Jan 26, 2012 8:57 am

Husker wrote:Only, once a file is found, would it be 'scrubbed',

That can handle existing tagged files.

It looks like the IMAGEMAGICK PATH hook has some potential for new posts since it appears it's already integrated nicely. I started looking into ImageMagick but haven't found anything yet. Perhaps removing the exif wrapper for starters? Regardless, the hook itself could potentially be hijacked by an appropriate script. Or maybe the ImageMagick or php folks can offer a solution (if it's not already there) or accept a feature request.

IMHO, this is a privacy issue that should be a significant issue for ALL Internet forum users ... not just us. So I believe it's just a matter of getting the right folks interested in providing a simple sol'n for the sysadmins.

Regards, ... gotta get back to earning money. ;-)

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Re: Geo-tagging - PLEASE READ

Postby MuleKicker » Thu Jan 26, 2012 9:01 am

I dont think many cameras do this, just phones. (maybe some of your new fangled fancy cameras have gps tech in them) I saw this on the news a few weeks ago. Say your wife takes an innocent picture of your daughter in her bedroom and posts it on facebook..... The creeps know exactly where your daughter sleeps now. Never thought of it pertaining to stilling. Good info. .

And please remove the tag from that llama photo. You are violating his privacy rights. :shock:
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Re: Geo-tagging - PLEASE READ

Postby Large Sarge » Thu Jan 26, 2012 9:22 am

MuleKicker, you would be surprised how many new cameras have this. GPS tech has become pretty cheap. Additionally many programs give the user the ability to add it after the fact. I use Aperture and tag all of my photos that will be reproduced along with a copyright with my name on it. iPhoto, Picasa, Lightroom, Photoshop Elements, etc.. all have similar functions.

With that said, I think unless it can easily be scrubbed out, it is a user responsibility to protect themselves and delete or change the info.
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Re: Geo-tagging - PLEASE READ

Postby John Barleycorn » Thu Jan 26, 2012 9:25 am

Husker,

If you have ImageMagick installed with phpBB, it looks like you should be able to strip all of the exif data. I found the following page that may provide a potential sol'n:

http://hacktux.com/read/remove/exif#imagemagick

With the phpBB IMAGEMAGICK PATH hook, you should be able to prevent the data from entering, and use mogrify to clean up the existing files.

Regards,
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Re: Geo-tagging - PLEASE READ

Postby blind drunk » Thu Jan 26, 2012 9:27 am

Good to have some of the older digital cameras kicking around for posting pics here, I guess. I hate all of this surveillance integration technology, and in a democracy!
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Re: Geo-tagging - PLEASE READ

Postby Husker » Thu Jan 26, 2012 9:41 am

John Barleycorn wrote:IMHO, this is a privacy issue that should be a significant issue for ALL Internet forum users ... not just us. So I believe it's just a matter of getting the right folks interested in providing a simple sol'n for the sysadmins.

Regards, ... gotta get back to earning money. ;-)

--JB


I agree, but I only have time to worry about our internet forums. Save ourselves today, save the world some other day.

Keep the discussion going, we will monitor this, and see what privacy fixes we can get addressed, to help users protect themselves from self-ignorant actions.

I think if we can get a solution to either fix what we have here, and then to later auto strip this information out, then new content is upload, and it should become only a memory (at least here). But I do feel that on a site such as this, which we are all sneaking into the grey areas of the law, we should be pretty careful about helping keep all of us as anon as we possibly can be.

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Re: Geo-tagging - PLEASE READ

Postby Husker » Thu Jan 26, 2012 9:43 am

MuleKicker wrote:And please remove the tag from that llama photo. You are violating his privacy rights. :shock:


Thats right, llamas have stalkers too, and I certainly do not want to be sued over some llama being raped by a perv, because we gave up his location on this site.

(No, keep it there, so I have a known working example).

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Re: Geo-tagging - PLEASE READ

Postby Husker » Thu Jan 26, 2012 9:45 am

Large Sarge wrote:With that said, I think unless it can easily be scrubbed out, it is a user responsibility to protect themselves and delete or change the info.


Yes, sarge, it 'really' IS their response. But, if we can easily scrub it, then make a few minor tweeks to the site, so that upload auto have this done, then for a site like this, I really think we should help someone ignorant to this (I was) protect themselves from themselves.

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Re: Geo-tagging - PLEASE READ

Postby Husker » Thu Jan 26, 2012 9:47 am

John Barleycorn wrote:Husker,

If you have ImageMagick installed with phpBB, it looks like you should be able to strip all of the exif data. I found the following page that may provide a potential sol'n:

http://hacktux.com/read/remove/exif#imagemagick

With the phpBB IMAGEMAGICK PATH hook, you should be able to prevent the data from entering, and use mogrify to clean up the existing files.

Regards,
--JB


So this can clean what is there? I certainly want to set something up to fix any new stuff, but I figured this was a find and fix issue, unless some tool already would work properly with phpbb3. If that is the case, then good, we will git it done, shortly.

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Re: Geo-tagging - PLEASE READ

Postby Husker » Thu Jan 26, 2012 10:10 am

Topic is sticky for now, until we get it resolved, since I have quite a few irons in the fire (both here, and a that 4 letter word that keeps a roof over the wife/kids heads), I do not want to forget one. I think this should easily be a non-issue, once we get things cleaned, and submissions fixed to auto scrub.

It may be something we want to inform ppl that DO use external image host sites, but they will have to fix things themselves (or pay me the big bucks).

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Re: Geo-tagging - PLEASE READ

Postby Prairiepiss » Thu Jan 26, 2012 10:13 am

I have not much to add. Other then I know the geotags work. I use them for my vacation photos. Helps keep track of where the pics were taken.

But I have not seen anyone ask for this thread to be a sticky. I know it may evolve over time. But a sticky with the warning would be useful. Until all the details are worked out. Then it can be updated.

Well you beet me to it Husker. :thumbup:
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Re: Geo-tagging - PLEASE READ

Postby Husker » Fri Jan 27, 2012 4:48 pm

Hello all.

I have been given (through a pretty long pm), a command that should 'work', I hope. I wanted to toss this one out there, to ask anyone else if they knew better, BEFORE, I pulled the trigger.

The concern I have, is we have 2GB left of disk space. Our files directory, right now, is at 2.6GB of space. i.e. the quandry. I really can't back things up well, so if this fuks something up, I will NOT be all too happy.

here is the command: mogrify -strip *

phpbb stores all uploads in a ./files directory. The file gets renamed, to the users userid _ a MD5 hash of 'something' So, all information is lost based on file name. This information IS available within the table structure phpbb stores to, so 'it' can figure shit out, but this information is not easily determined by an external app, only looking at the file name. Now, on our site, 99% of the files ARE images (jpg and png's).

I have run a smallish test, on a few copied files. The command worked just fine. The files were reduced in size, some a great deal, percentage wise. I downloaded them to my PC, and both the before and after worked and looked the same.

So my question, to the masses, IS, do ppl think the above command is 'safe'. I am going to dig into the phpbb tables, to make sure that doing something like changing the file's size, will cause problems. If so, then I will have to also update records if we change them. Also, I would like to find some way to preserve file time stamps. I am going to look at the mogrify command for help (see if it has a -p or something like the cp command). If not, then I will have to script it with touch.

Once we get this figured out, IFFFF this works, then I will probably generate a script, and have it run hourly as a cron task. that way, any new uploaded images would be de-mogrigied shortly. Not a 'perfect' solution, as the file would sit a short while with the personal info, but it's the best we can do quickly, without hacking in and modifying the phpbb source.

Thanks every1 for informing me of this, and for information on how to 'fix' this problem. Yep, this IS the fault of the user (even if it is only ignorance), but with the 'type' of information we have here, I think it is wise as site admin to try to help protect the user from his own lack of action, where we know 'of' it, and know it 'can' be corrected.

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Re: Geo-tagging - PLEASE READ

Postby whiskeyhound » Sat Jan 28, 2012 4:05 pm

Just wanted to say thanks to YHB for pointing this out to me. Since then i have uploaded my pictures again without the metadata. I edit my photos on a program called Aperture for the Mac. After I sized it small enough to upload to HD I just have to de-select the option to include Metadata on exported versions and all is well.

Thanks again YHB
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Re: Geo-tagging - PLEASE READ

Postby Husker » Sun Jan 29, 2012 7:22 pm

I am running this command on all of the files:

morgrify -strip -quality 65 -compress JPEG FILENAME

On the thumbnail files, I did this:

morgrify -strip FILENAME

This was done with a script that preserved time, by saving the files timestamp off, then used touch to set it back to the prior time.

Once I got my script done, I did the thumbnails without backing up. It was pretty safe, simply stripping off the meta crap. I am now working on the other files (about 10k of them). I am doing these 2k at a time, copying the files to a temp dir, backing up that temp dir, and then running the morgrify.

NOTE, the files take up about 40% of the size they did when I started. Most of the change is the huge 1mb to 2mb pictures, where people simply uploaded pretty much uncompressed data. The files in the end look about as good as they did before.

I will setup a script, that does this every hour or a couple times a day, pulling out the meta crap from new uploads, and possibly compressing them.


PLEASE, if you find graphics that were messed up, by this, then send me a PM, so we can fix them. I do not think this should have caused any problems.


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Re: Geo-tagging - PLEASE READ

Postby YHB » Wed Feb 08, 2012 1:14 pm

Husker,

Many thanks for the all the hours you must put in maintaining this forum and upgrading the parent site. I can appreciate the effort it must take.

I see that your mogrify script is working, My Llama is now untraceable. :clap:

Although I did pick up another geotagged post today - I am assuming that it was between the mogrify runs.

As another angle on the problem - What is the possibility of including a warning about this issue on the file upload screen?

Thanks again

Brian

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Re: Geo-tagging - PLEASE READ

Postby Husker » Wed Feb 08, 2012 3:13 pm

YHB wrote:Although I did pick up another geotagged post today - I am assuming that it was between the mogrify runs.

As another angle on the problem - What is the possibility of including a warning about this issue on the file upload screen?



The warning message is a good idea, I will look into it. As for doing this scripted, I do not have a way just yet, so I am only running the script as needed. Part of the issue is file ownership. I need to see if I can get a cron script running as www user. I will probably have to talk to UJ offline, and get it setup and working. But since I have a proper working script to strip this stuff, yet maintain a valid working pic, I feel at easy that we will get this done.

I may dig into the file upload php script, and see if we can simply call the script from within there.

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Re: Geo-tagging - PLEASE READ

Postby cupcake +1 » Sun Feb 12, 2012 9:32 am

Holy Crap Batman!!!!! Thank you so much YHB for this info, I had no idea this was possible
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