Suramya's Blog : Welcome to my crazy life…

October 17, 2019

Japanese Pop-star stalked using reflection in her eye – Highlighting dangers of digital debris in our digital artifacts

Filed under: My Thoughts — Suramya @ 4:26 PM

Over the years we have all learnt that sharing personal information like address, phone no’s, location etc with strangers over the internet is a bad idea. However with Social media this line is getting pretty blurred and people post all sorts of personal data online without any thoughts on how it might impact them. In addition to people personally posting information the various data items that we post online have digital information embedded in them in form of meta-data that tells information that you might not want to be public. For example, all modern phones embed location information in any photo taken unless the user explicitly opts out (which is rarely done). Looking at one of the pics taken with my phone during a trip you can see that it has the following information (There’s a lot more info, but this just shows some of the more interesting parts):

Looking at the data you can see that I was at Kovalam beach on 7th Oct and if I had something to hide about where I was during this time then this image would give information that I might not want known. A few years ago there was a case where a model posted a cropped version of a photo on her blog without realizing that a thumbnail of the original uncropped version was embedded in the cropped pic and one of the visitors to her blog managed to recover the thumbnail and view the original image which happened to show the lady in the nude. There are now software available to strip this and other information from any photos you share. I suggest you check them out if you post images frequently.

In addition to the information embedded in the file you also need to be aware of what is visible in the picture itself. Earlier this week a Japanese stalker was arrested after he stalked and assaulted a 21-year-old “Japanese idol” at her home. The guy zoomed into a high-resolution selfie posted by the singer to view the train station reflected in her eye. After he found the image he used Google Street view to identify the station and then used the angle of the sun and other data points to narrow down the building and the floor the star was staying at. The guy identified himself as a ‘fan’ whereas a more accurate description would be a creep or stalker.

As the resolutions of photos go up so do the dangers of sharing these images, for example if you have a high-resolution photo with your keys in the image, it is now possible to create duplicate keys using the image. There is work ongoing to use the fingerprints shown on an image to generate high quality 3D prints replicating the fingerprints and in a test the printed finger was able to unlock a Galaxy S10 using the finger print scanner. In fact Tokyo Shimbun, a Japanese newspaper has gone so far as to tell people that they shouldn’t make the V-sign with their hand, which Japanese often do in photos, because fingerprints could be stolen. (What a world we live in, right?)

So you need to be very careful about what you post online. Stay safe everyone 🙂

Well this is all for now, will post more later.

– Suramya

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