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iMessage & EXIF Data within photos

DeepIn2U

macrumors 604
Original poster
May 30, 2002
7,746
2,713
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
So I came across a very interesting article on Forbes, stating a concern about EXIF Data in photos being sent over iMessage and security.

Forbes Article titled "Why You Should Stop Sending Photos On Apple iMessage"

Zak Doffman ... As I’ve written before, SMS and its RCS upgrade have weak security given their lack of end-to-end encryption and fragmented architectures. Most of us now use other messengers most of the time. The two most popular ones—the highly-secure WhatsApp and less-secure Facebook Messenger, both strip EXIF data when you send images. Unsurprisingly, Telegram and Signal do the same. But what about Apple’s end-to-end encrypted iMessage? Unfortunately, it’s actually not as secure as others.

There are several ways photos can be shared over iMessage. You can select the camera icon when composing a new message—if you then take a photo, no location data is sent, which is good. But if you select the photo album option from within the camera, and then select photos to send, these will be sent with embedded location information. Similarly, if you select the photo app from within iMessage, then any photos sent will not be stripped of metadata—even if you toggle location services off before sending.

Clearly, photos can only include embedded data if it’s captured. You could turn off location services for the camera within your privacy settings and not capture GPS data at all—but then you’d miss all the location functionality associated with your photos.

I've just checked in iOS 14 on my iPhone 8 and noticed that the Share function within iMessage, within it's option at the top does keep my choice to remove location data. On the flip side though, existing pictures I have within Photo Album still retain location data if I just attach to a newly composed iMessage or in a reply.

A bit of a serious concern, especially with young tweens/teenagers that share through iMessage or from anyone via their Mac's. I'm unable to find any information of security with iMessage on Apple's site related to EXIF data and sharing within iMessage.

A previous thread back in 20014 has mentioned this as well (it's been 6yrs).
 

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PhillyGuy72

macrumors 68000
Sep 13, 2014
1,736
1,614
Philadelphia, PA USA
It is scary. The amount of data in the photos is mind-blowing.
This app, "EXIF Viewer" will show everything about the pic, of course precise GPS coodinates, even a view of Apple Maps of where the photo was taken..

https://apps.apple.com/us/app/exif-viewer-lite-by-fluntro/id979066584

But this app CAN remove all of that info. I know kids, anyone wants to shoot and send immediately - rather than take some additional step in an app to strip all the data. But its good to have.

 
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C DM

macrumors Sandy Bridge
Oct 17, 2011
50,840
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