This is part four of a multi-part blog series.
If somebody asked you where the photo above was taken, how would you figure it out? Maybe you would make an educated guess. The building reads, "Motorola Solutions", so it probably belongs to our company. The weather looks temperate; it's not in the desert. There aren't any immediately surrounding structures, so it's likely not in the middle of a city. Given these facts, and using photos and maps on the internet, you could probably figure out eventually that the building is Motorola Solutions headquarters, in Schaumburg, Illinois.
Now, what if you were asked to figure out where the next picture was taken?
Maybe you could deduce something about the flower, but it's impossible to say exactly where the photo was taken just by looking at it. What if you also wanted to know whose cameras took the photos, and at what time?
The answers lie in something called "exchangeable image file format" (EXIF). EXIF metadata is hidden in many common picture formats. It includes information about the camera model used and its settings, such as aperture, time, and resolution. EXIF data may also note if a photo was edited. Although that might not mean much to us, it's useful information for professional photographers – EXIF was developed in the 1990s to help them. It is now an industry standard, used in almost all digital cameras (including mobile phones).
Today, EXIF contains information far beyond camera settings. Most smartphones provide GPS, and can add latitude and longitude information to the photos they take (known as "geotagging"). Geotagging is intended to aid the photographer and the applications and websites he or she sends pictures to. Phones also note information about themselves, such as model, manufacturer, operating system, and serial number.
Let's have a look at some of the EXIF information hidden inside our picture of flowers:
We now know the picture was taken by an iPhone at 42 3' 55.09" N, 88 2' 59.21" W, on 9/23/13. Google Maps shows us where the photo was taken - also Motorola Solutions, Schaumburg.
Obviously, this is a big security concern. We wouldn't publicly post where our kids go to school, where a military unit is deployed, or where we live or are working on a confidential project. So why do we continue to let our cameras do it for us? Not only do we know the when and where these photos were taken, but we know which phone the photographer was using. From a hacking perspective, Jane Hacker now knows to send the owner malware for iPhone, not Android.
Let's have a closer look at some of the EXIF metadata in our picture of the building:
So, this photo was taken at 42 3' 46.75" N, 88 2' 56.47" W using a Motorola XT907. A quick Google search shows us XT907 means a Droid RAZR M. Again, the GPS position is easily translated into a street address. That was easier than our detective work earlier!
Fortunately, as awareness of the risks of location data in photos increases, providers are doing more to prevent users from accidentally exposing it. Instagram and Facebook remove EXIF data from uploaded photos. However, many other popular photo sharing and storage services don't, because photographers still use the information.
Next time you post a photo, consider what else you're posting. Could including the location, time, or camera impact your security, or that of your organization or family? There's rarely reason to leave geotagging enabled. It provides far too much private information to anyone who sees the photo.
Instructions for disabling geotagging on Android devices can be found here. For Apple devices, they can be found here, and for Blackberry, here. For existing photos, Windows 7 and above provide a menu option to remove EXIF metadata from photos.
Lesley Carhart is a Senior Information Security Specialist in the Motorola Solutions Security Operations Center. She has 13 years of experience in information technology, including computer networking and tactical communications. For the past five years, she has focused on security, specializing in digital forensics.
Read past blogs by Lesley Carhart here:
Whether in daily incidents or tragedies like the Boston bombings, we have all seen the direct results video cameras have on fighting crime and saving lives.
Deploying cameras and the required support systems can be a resource challenge for cities. Some larger cities in the United States, for example, have been able to deploy camera networks with the aid of funding from the federal government. These camera systems are largely built to protect homeland security targets and are not always in the locations that need monitoring on a daily basis. Homeland security cameras may be placed near financial districts, museums, high-end shopping areas, tourist destinations, hotels, etc., but it is difficult to justify federal homeland security funds for cameras in a neighborhood known for drugs and gang activity.
Cities with access to federal dollars also know they need cameras on the outskirts of the city but are unable to prioritize them over other high-value targets. And when one considers how to extend the camera network beyond the limits of the downtown area, the more difficult it can become to deploy the infrastructure - requiring IT and even construction resources to install cameras on light poles, buildings, etc. and ensure the resource availability to support the system in these outdoor areas.
Community partnerships can provide an effective way to supplement public safety camera systems. Community "stakeholders" can play a key role, because many businesses and even residences today have installed security cameras to deter criminals. By leveraging the footage captured by potentially thousands of community cameras all over the city, detectives can solve and even prevent crimes before they are committed.
However, when you think about the time it takes to gather private videos and review them, it is easy to see how critical time can be lost. For example: Someone walks into a convenience store, robs a clerk at gunpoint, and flees the scene. The store owner calls 9-1-1 and police arrive on the scene. The store owner provides police with a copy of a video, and they take it back to the precinct to try to identify the suspect. The suspect may be long gone before police can investigate.
However, let's look at the same scenario where police can access the store's video while the incident is unfolding. A person walks into a convenience store and robs a clerk at gunpoint. The clerk hits a silent alarm behind the counter and triggers a live video feed to a 9-1-1 dispatcher, who can now see what is happening at the scene in real time and can stream the same video or a snapshot of the perpetrator to an officer in the area. The officer, before arriving at the scene knows what the suspect looks like. When the officer gets to the scene, he spots the suspect fleeing. The store owner calls 9-1-1 and the dispatcher tells him that police are outside the store with the suspect in custody, and they need the clerk to please walk outside to positively identify the suspect. Equipping police officers with real-time information mid-incident can be an effective deterrent to crime, keeping a community safe.
Today, law enforcement agencies around the country are successfully leveraging community partnerships like the one described above to extend a city's video network and work together as a proactive entity. For example, the recent news about Cook County Regional Organized Crime task force shows how Law Enforcement, Retailers, and the State Attorney's Office in Illinois are fighting organized crime together with a technology partner like Motorola Solutions to help bring the data and video resources together for better information when officers needed it. This type of community partnership is an exciting example of preventive crime fighting and how we can all work together to create safer cities.
Jeff Menken is a Global Solutions Architect for Motorola Solutions.
Disney movies are frequently based on fairy-tales or parables which teach children, and sometimes adults, life lessons. In "The Lion King", one of the philosophies that the main character tries to live by is "Hakuna Matata." If you're one of the few who hasn't seen the movie or the musical, "Hakuna Matata" is a Swahili phrase that, roughly translated, means "don't worry, be happy." Ultimately, the main character realizes that this philosophy only works if you don't care about the outcome. This actually has a lesson for those of us engaged in life-cycle management for public safety communications networks.
So what kind of lesson does this offer us in regards to radio communications? Just this: as traditional Land Mobile Radio (LMR) systems are migrating to IP-based P25 systems, some agencies seem to be adopting a "Hakuna Matata" attitude about managing their network. While this might be a good philosophy for not getting too stressed about life, it is actually a terrible strategy for managing the elements and lifecycles of complex new communications networks. We must worry about the complexity of P25 systems, as these systems help public safety professionals save lives.
Many agencies simply don't have a strong strategic migration plan or a clearly defined funding strategy. That's a problem all the happy thoughts in the world aren't going to solve. Migration to IP-based P25 radio and LTE networks in the future isn't a choice. It's an imperative. Agencies need the latest P25 technology so they can interoperate with other agencies, provide new services, run new devices with advanced features, and establish a base for eventually moving to the next generation of broadband technology and the benefits it brings of high speed data applications.
Unfortunately migration isn't simple. Because many public safety agencies are accustomed to building a Land Mobile Radio (LMR) system once and then managing it with little changes for the next 15-20 years, the transition to more complex IP-based systems can be a shock. There are significant differences between traditional circuit-based LMR systems and the ever-changing complexity of IP-based systems. For public safety, these new environments demand a more IT-centric type of approach, focusing on integration and management of hundreds or even thousands of individual components.
The key to ensuring mission critical performance and operational continuity for your radio system is lifecycle management. It takes the entire network into consideration. Instead of just radio and future broadband technology, it supports security updates, backhaul, towers and power sources, as well as innovative new devices and powerful applications like data base query, CAD and, in the near future, streaming video. This type of planning provides a long-term vision for system growth, enhancements and technology refreshes.
As demonstrated by the graphic below, life-cycle planning must encompass all of the elements that impact or interact with the network. These can have varying life-cycle or refresh rates as short as a couple of weeks and as long as 10 – 20 years. No matter the length, they represent an interconnected environment in which the welfare of the whole is dependent on the health of individual pieces. Going back to "The Lion King" analogy, this is much like the "Circle of Life" theme from the movie.
Click on the image to enlarge it.
A well designed lifecycle management approach helps ensure your ability to plan and control spending, mitigate unexpected costs and guarantee performance levels over a multi-year time frame. Effective lifecycle planning helps you understand long-term budget needs and concerns, enabling your network to deliver consistent performance cost-efficiently, enhancing community safety no matter how extensively your system changes over time.
With the challenges so complex and the stakes so high, it's not surprising that many agencies are seeking support for creating or managing the lifecycle of a system. Motorola offers many solutions that can assist with this effort, creating a comprehensive, cost-effective way to ensure that you can accurately predict and control performance and spending while you transition your current mission critical LMR system smoothly to an IP-based solution and keep it operating at peak performance.
And once you have the proper solutions in place for managing your systems' lifecycle, migration, and performance, you can be a lot closer to living that "Hakuna Matata" lifestyle.
Kirk Miller has been in the communications industry for more than 20 years. With a background in consulting, engineering and account management, he is currently working in the Managed Services arm of Motorola's Global Solution Services. His focus over the years has been ensuring strategic network and operational planning for communications networks.
To learn more about simplifying P25 network migration, management, and funding, please read "Making Complexity Manageable."
At the recent APCO conference in Anaheim, California, I demonstrated Motorola Solutions’ PremierOne Handheld application as an effective way for police officers to quickly access and share critical information as well as manage incidents in real-time. This tool allows the officer in the field on a smart device or tablet to run queries, get incident updates and stay connected to dispatch no matter where they are.
If you would like to learn more about how officers can stay connected to the right information to do their job more effectively, I invite you to visit our PremierOne handheld webpage.
Julie Folden is a Public Safety Mobility Applications Product Manager for Motorola Solutions, Inc.