Rating: Alleged hacker caught via iPhone photograph
We’ve long known that most people are unaware that when they take photos, embedded into the digital file is a whole wealth of location information. If you’ve got GPS (satellite) switched on then that information can be incredibly precise. As one alleged US hacker recently found out to his cost. Higinio O. Ochoa III, a 30 year-old computer programmer from Galveston, Texas (USA), was arrested after posting a photo taken with his Apple iPhone onto the Net. The photograph was of his Australian girlfriend, named as Kylie Gardner. It enabled police officers to track down the couple to a housing estate in Wantirna, Australia where they were duly arrested. GoMobile News would question how much of a true ‘hacker’ Ochoa actually is.For starters, any hacker worth his salt would have known about embedded location information in digital phones – especially those taken with smartphones. And the iPhone in particular.
Secondly, his grasp of the hacker vernacular doesn’t appear to have been too strong. The picture contained a message on a piece of paper wrapped around the girl’s waist.
The intention was to taunt US officials. In it, Ochia used the word ‘pownd’ which is supposed to mean ‘pre-owned’ but it doesn’t seem to make sense in this context.
The final dead giveaway – as far as GoMobile News is concerned, is that judging from the scantily-clad picture, Ms Gardner appears to be quite reasonably attractive.
We can’t reproduce the picture here as it is far too raunchy but curious readers should be able to locate it on the Sun newspaper’s web site here.
Come on! Who on Earth would be an accomplished hacker – implying long, lonely hours spent in front of a computer in a small bedroom, if they have an attractive girlfriend? Obviously he’s an amateur.
The fact that he posted his girlfriend’s real name on his Facebook page is another clear sign that he was no accomplished hacker.
Reports have indicated that the embedded data showed the police authorities the exact street and house in Wantirna, South Melbourne where the photo was taken. Suggesting that GPS was, indeed, switched on.
There are, of course, plenty of good reasons why ordinary citizens wouldn’t want to give out location information by mistake.
A good example here would be a young girl posting innocent pictures of herself on a Facebook page. Theoretically, she could provide a stalker with enough information to locate her home.
Standard advice is, of course, not to agree to provide your location data when a smartphone app asks for it.
This is kind of self-defeating – think of facilities such as Check-in on Facebook which are deliberately designed to let your friends know where you are at the time.
GoMobile News intends to investigate tools for removing sensitive data from digital photos before they get posted online.
Facebook, iPhone, mobile-location photos