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GCN : January 2013
Security experts have been warning about the potential risks of geo- tags for several years. For instance, a photo taken by a U.S. soldier on a smart phone could reveal location information and endanger the mission. The risk to military and government employees abroad, or to anyone whose location could be considered confidential, is too great to ignore, experts say. "So, how do I turn this feature off?" you ask. Good question. Here are the steps to disable geotagging for the four major mobile operating systems. Note that manufacturer websites are largely silent on this issue; these tips are culled from user experience, community blogs and how-to websites: Android 4.2 phones 1. Start camera application 2. Hit the Settings button 3. Scroll down and find the GPS Tag option and turn it off In older versions, the option may be called "Store Location," but is it essen- tially the same process. BlackBerry 6.0 and 7.0 RIM suggests through its online documentation that disabling geotag- ging be done on BlackBerry Enterprise Server, which would work from an admin's point of view if an agency uses BES. If not, to turn off the setting on an individual BlackBerry phone: 1. Open Camera 2. Set the Location icon to "Disabled" For some earlier versions you will need to hit the Menu and Option buttons before changing the setting. iPhone 4 and 5 1. Go to Settings 2. Select General 3. Select Location Services 4. Set Camera to "Off" For older versions, you can't really turn off geotagging for the camera with- out disabling it for all applications. You can also set location warnings to go off when an application is using them. Windows Phone 7 and 8 1. Go to Settings 2. Navigate to Applications 3. Scroll down to Pictures & Camera 4. Set "include location (GPS) info in Pictures you take" to "Off" --- John Breeden II How you can disable your smart phone's geotagging GCN JANUARY 2013 • GCN.COM 11 ANALYSIS The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse documented 85 incidents in 2012 that exposed personally identi able information held in federal, state and local government systems. The largest of these breaches involved the hacking last summer of the South Carolina Department of Rev- enue, which exposed as many as 6.4 million records, many of which included Social Security and credit card numbers. To help protect sensitive data from these kinds of incidents, the National Institute of Standards and Tech- nology is considering schemes for Format-Preserving Encryption (FPE) that could be used with the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) algorithm to shield informa- tion while keeping it available to applications. Credit card, ID and Social Security numbers often are used as identi ers to link records within databases. Ap- plications also use them as indexes to retrieve records even when the actual numbers are not necessary to the application, said Terrence Spies, CTO of Voltage Security. If the enterprise can learn to use the data while en- crypted, applications do not need access to encryption keys or plain text numbers. The data can remain en- crypted in databases, in transit and while being used. To do this, the encrypted numbers have to remain recognizable; their format has to be preserved. Spies is one of the authors of a paper specifying techniques for FPE under consideration by NIST. The scheme, called FFX, uses a technique known as a Feistel network, which is used in many block ciphers. This is useful, because block ciphers produce cipher texts of the same number of characters as the plain text blocks being enciphered. But because block cipher algorithms such as DES (Data Encryption Standard) and AES are intended to encrypt messages of arbitrary lengths, they cannot be used directly for FPE encryption. Applying the Feistel technique to selected data sets such as a Social Security number using a strong algo- rithm such as AES results in encrypted elds that retain their original format in pseudo-random permutations. • Want to foil hackers? Keep data encrypted