In the digital age we leave a footprint everywhere we go.
It’s called Geo-tracking and it’s a cellphone feature that allows every picture you send, share, upload or tweet to be tracked by location.
Gus Dimitrelos a former Secret Service agent and now the owner of Cyber Forensics 360, a company specializing in digital tracking, explains the dangers of image sharing.
When asked about the technology he said most of today's new smartphone cameras don't just record an image, but it also record GPS information that shows where the photo was taken.
You can't see it on the screen, but it's there. When you send those pictures to someone, or post those pictures to online sharing services, there are people with bad intentions who know how to find it.
Dimitrelos said, "If I convince you to send me a picture of yourself when you are in your bedroom, I can identify where you live immediately!"
It's a digital trail that could allow someone to track you to your workplace, to your favorite restaurant, even to your family's front door!
Even though you cannot erase the GPS trail from pictures you’ve already posted, you can eliminate the locater from any of your future photos.
In the case of iPhones and Androids, Dimitrelos explained that the phones have a privacy setting that allows you to disable the GPS imprints on the pictures you take.
It’s a simple process where you go to your privacy settings, and then to your phone’s photo settings. Within that screen there is a warning displayed that explains it all.
"Photos on your iPhone may contain other information, such as when and where a photo was taken," say Dimitrelos, "It says it right there! And simply by touching the screen, I've disabled the photo GPS feature. Simple as that."
After you take this precautionary step you can safely snap that next photo without worry. Or can you?
Before you post, you might want to look at that picture again, not for what's hidden, but for what you can plainly see.
That's the advice of Kevin Levy of TKR Solutions in Daphne.
"Even outside of GPS," Kevin said, "Items in the background. Places and locations, street signs. So are you placing a photo online that seems harmless to you but identifies where you are when you've taken that photograph and if so, if that's a place that you regularly frequent, you would just have to assume that anyone able to view that online would be able to know where you would be on a given day."
Kevin also points out that sending a photo to a close friend doesn't mean it will stay there. Sites like Facebook give that photo a life of its own as it's shared from one computer to another and another.
Not all attributes of Geo-tracking are negative.
In the case of Gail Linkins, a concerned mother, who used the technology to track down the location of a person who sent her daughter an unsettling photo.
"My daughter did, when she first got the phone," recalled Gail, "She did receive an inappropriate photograph on the phone, and we had to have that traced back to where it came from."
That was not an easy task, even for Linkins, who is in charge of passenger security at Mobile Regional Airport.
"No, she didn't know the person, and it caused her to cry. And, unfortunately, she immediately deleted it," said Linkins.
But there was still a trail left behind, enough information for Linkins to go after the sender.
As a mother of a middle school student and a high school student, Linkins says she can't be too careful.
Talk to your child now of the dangers of not just what they send, but what they receive.
"You could have a visual history of everything you do," she said, "and I don't know how many of us would want a visual history of everything we did."
Remember, this GPS technology is on most new smart phones and directions for disabling it should be plainly spelled out in your owners manual.
There is also an excellent link that can help. It's called "I Can Stalk You"
It sounds scary, but it's to the point and offers photo GPS disabling advice for most new phones.
The link to the GPS disabling service is below:http://icanstalku.com/how.php#disable