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Personal Technology in a Deployed Environment

The metadata from a photo taken by an iPhone gives the exact latitude and longitude of the photo's origin.  Such data could be used to the benefit of hostile forces when such photos are taken at deployed locations.  Airmen are cautioned to be aware of this breach in security and are advised to avoid placing such photos in public forums.

The metadata from a photo taken by an iPhone gives the exact latitude and longitude of the photo's origin. Such data could be used to the benefit of hostile forces when such photos are taken at deployed locations. Airmen are cautioned to be aware of this breach in security and are advised to avoid placing such photos in public forums.

MILWAUKEE -- Technology has brought a sense of connectedness to the world, wherein anything can be shared with anyone by the push of a button.

Internet sites, such as Twitter and Facebook, allow service members to share their deployed experiences with friends and family members. Smart phones, such as Research-in-Motion's Blackberry and Apple's iPhone, can operate in a global environment.

The flow of information bears an element of risk, though. A poorly-conceived comment, a photo taken without regard for situational awareness, can jeopardize a service member, a unit or a mission. We, as service members, must remain vigilant for any disseminated information that can compromise security and risk lives.

Yanmei Xie's article 'She is as dangerous as she looks,' found at http://liveshots.blogs.foxnews.com/2010/07/24/she-is-as-dangerous-as-she-looks/, gives insight into a particular leak of potentially harmful information: geo-tagged photographs taken by an iPhone. These seemingly innocuous photographs contain information that can lead the enemy directly to the photographer, namely by including GPS coordinates in the photograph's metadata. Using this information, enemies can discover exactly where a service member is or was, thereby exposing troop positions to potential attacks or surveillance.

Being connected with friends and family members is crucial to a deployed service member's well being, but caution must be exercised. Sharing information, whether it's a Facebook status update or a photograph of friends hard at work, must be screened for any potential security breaches. Staying connected is important, but the safety of service members and on-going missions must come first.

Such awareness extends to service members at their home station, too. The work we do is equally important and prone to become the subject of friendly discussion. It's our responsibility to ensure we do not reveal critical details to people who lack a need to know.

Service members who wish to share personal military photos on public sites are urged to contact their local Public Affairs office. Photos that reveal compromising information can be identified before they have the potential to cause harm. Also, anyone who finds a comment, blog post or status update that is questionable is urged to bring such information to the attention of their local Public Affairs office.

Air Force Public Affairs wants Airmen to tell their story and keep in touch with friends and family. Doing so in a safe and preventative manner ultimately benefits everyone.