Latest posts by Alvin Bryan (see all)
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Even if you permit website access through your computer to HTTPS sites only, your personal information could still be at risk. The metadata that every file carries hidden within it can potentially transmit your information. Snoopers can intercept and manipulate this data to commit identity and financial theft. You need to hide your metadata as much as possible to stay safe.
Metadata is easily tracked by people with some technical knowledge of it, and a few tools. Even though you transmit data through HTTPS sites only, your metadata may be giving you away without your knowledge. The metadata can reveal many different types of information. For instance, it can show your IP address and the websites you visited. It can even reveal how much time you spent there, and how much bandwidth you used while you were there.
Metadata is data about data. It contains bits of information like the who, what, when, where, why and how of the data. People who know where to find metadata and how to access this hidden information potentially gain access to personally identifiable information. HTTPS sites may encrypt the data you share on the website, but it does not safeguard all your metadata. This means there is a trail left behind that snoopers can follow. They can pick up bits of your identity from the data stream and piece them together. You need to hide your metadata.
This means that while you think no one can see what you are doing, snoopers are taking notes on your location, the IP you are connected to, etc. With this information, it is not difficult to make an educated guess. Let’s take email for example. Your email provider may be running on HTTPS. But the metadata of email can reveal a lot of information, if not the total contents of the message. Metadata reveals the addresses of the recipients and sender, and the sender’s IP address. Hide the metadata revealed in email by changing your IP address.
Your IP logs show everything about where you went on the Internet. Your IP address can tell things like what you read, what pages you really spent time on, what discussions you participate in. By following your trail, snoopers can imitate your online activities. They can pick up other traces of your activities there, building a clearer picture of you as they go. Hide your IP address to hide your metadata.
Photo and Document Metadata
Metadata for photos can be added by a user, software, or digital camera. The information embedded in an image is not placed there on purpose, but it can contain copyright Information, text descriptions, serial numbers, dates, times, names, and more. Here is some metadata that may be sent out along with Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents. And why it can be dangerous.
Name and initials of those who created and edited the document
The name of your firm or organization
Name of the computer
Name of the local hard drive or network server where the document is saved
Non-visible portions of embedded OLE objects
This information provides a trail that can be followed to make connections between people involved in the document’s creation. It can also provide different bits of user information that can be put together to complete an identity profile. This information is mostly used to execute social engineering attacks meant to obtain access to financial accounts.
Other file properties and document summary information
Document revisions history and versions
Hidden text and comments
These are dangerous because they may contain information that you thought you deleted. While you are working on a document, you may have typed in some sensitive information as a note. You may take a break and do some online shopping or check your bank balance. You may type in a password or your credit card number so you can just copy and paste it. You delete it later, obviously, but it can be recovered.
Hide Your Metadata
The best way to make sure this data is not accessible to outsiders is to use a tool that encrypts both your data and your traffic, and hides your IP address. A VPN does all of these, securing your online activities so that snoopers don’t know who or where you are, where you go or what you do online. Your privacy is maintained and your sensitive information is safe. By hiding your IP address, anything taken from metadata cannot be associated with you as the the user.