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Effective Ways of Protecting your Photos from Cyber Criminals

Over time it has become more convenient to share pictures online through social media platforms with our family and friends, but not many are aware of the risks of sharing these images. We have lots of people coming forward to complain about Cyber Criminals using their photos to perform various crimes. These crimes committed can also be linked to them if carefully investigated. So it is very important to know how you can protect your pictures from them because if it happens, you might not be able to charge them for these fraudulent acts. 

According to BBC News , Helen Mort, a victim of deepfake pornography, called for a change in law and was told by the police that no actions could be taken over the deepfake porn images she saw online.

In the previous year, Helen Mort found out that a non-sexual image of her had been uploaded to a porn website; of course, when she figured it out, she was furious. The porn site engineers were called to edit the photos, photoshopping Helen’s face with some of their sexual images.

According to Helen, this is a crime, and many people are victims, and they don’t even know about it. She also said that those images of her had been out there for years, and she didn’t know about them. Presently, she is still having nightmares about some of those pictures. It is a serious form of abuse.

Deepfakes is a technique that creates realistic computer-generated images or videos in which they are entirely based on a real person. We have other people that are also victims of Deepfakes pornography. 

Helen is a poet and a writer from Sheffield; she was alerted by an acquaintance of hers who visited the site and saw her images on the deepfake pornography site. Now just imagine the reaction of the acquaintance; it was a shocking experience. It was found out that the original images were taken from her social media page, and these images include holiday pictures and photos of her during pregnancy. 

Although some of the images stolen were manipulated by the engineers’, there are also other pictures she took containing sensitive contents.

Helen also said that the underlying feeling was a shock to her, and the first time she saw it, she felt ashamed.

We all know it’s normal for her to feel that way. She felt like someone that has done something wrong, it was really difficult for her to overcome it, and for a while, she was so anxious to leave the house. No one should go through that ordeal. What’s so painful to her was when she alerted the police about the images but was categorically told that no action could be taken. So we need to know how to safeguard our images and stop this from repeating itself.

How Photos are stolen and misused by Cyber Criminals

We have lots of cases where photos that are shared by users on various social media platforms, websites were stolen and are also made public to either humiliate or blackmail the users. Some can be misused for fraud and identity theft. The most shocking thing is that photos obtained online from social media can also be used to unlock smartphones that are stolen, especially phones that have poorly implemented face unlocking mechanisms. Sometimes, photos online can reveal the location details of users to anyone that views it.

Photo sharing online is very risky. We just need to make sure our photos posted online are safe.

According to researchers, when a user shares a photo on social media or any online platform, the platform automatically captures their GPS coordinates and tags them to the post. Using the API, anyone with technological skills can retrieve the picture’s exact location through the metadata. Invariably, anyone seeing that particular post can get the user’s location via the post’s geospatial tag.

A recent statistical survey performed by McAfee involving 1,000 parents showed that out of 1,000 parents, 30% of the participants were uploading the photos of their children daily, and 58% of them did it without the child’s consent.

However, many of the participants involved feared that the photos of children posted there could lead to either cyberbullying, stalking of their children, and kidnapping.

Moreover, photos taken can reveal a lot about your various lifestyles, your habits, and by posting them online, you can unknowingly give away your data.

It is very important to know how you can safeguard your photos and prevent Cyber Criminals from having access to them.

Lastly, be mindful of what you post online and keep some important information away from social media.

The dangers of online image thefts

As previously mentioned, images can be taken from social media accounts or any online platform and be used for all kinds of atrocities. Some of which can be used on pornographic websites or any adult dating websites. You also need to know that images do not have to be particularly sensitive for them to be used on these platforms. Some of the pictures might be harmless profile pictures you posted online. However, the use of such images by cybercriminals can create a problem for the victims involved.

Porn Revenge

I know you are trying to decipher what “Porn Revenge” means. It has to do with stealing sexually looking images and videos involving sensitive areas, and when they are stolen, they can be used as revenge. This means that someone can steal a sexual video made by someone or images of sensitive body sexual areas. It sometimes involves the ex-partner of the victims who post the sexual images online. Sometimes, links are also included, tagging the victim’s social media profiles. This causes obvious emotional breakdown to the victim, and in some countries, there are laws set in place to punish offenders.

Cyberstalking

For cyberstalking, the stalkers who operate online steal people’s images to create a false profile on social media, websites, or blogs. This is used for fraudulent acts, thereby making the victim an offender. There are laws set in place to punish cyberstalkers in both the UK and the USA. 

The theft involved by professionals

This occurs when professional images are taken online and used without the owner’s permission, which can cause financial loss to the person involved. There is a different sort of danger for professional photographers and artists who have their online images stolen. So, as a professional, always make sure your images are protected and safe online.

How to take charge of your photos online

Here are some steps you can use to keep your photos safe online and offline;

 1. Always use face-unlocking tools in different social media platforms like Facebook, which helps block others from downloading or taking screenshots of your profile images. Using these characteristics stops Cyberbullies from taking your pictures from Facebook.

2. You can use block geo-tagging of photos on your smartphone or tablet. For iPhone users, you can switch it off in the Settings, then you go to Privacy and then to location, and in Android, you can access it through the camera settings. This helps users to check if their photos have been shared online without their knowledge by using Google’s reverse-image search function on both mobile and laptop.

When using Google photos, the photos taken by an iPhone or Android smartphone will automatically get uploaded to their respective cloud services. You can switch off the option anytime.

3. Avoid snapping sensitive images and posting them on social media platforms—especially pictures with very sensitive content. Always avoid sharing photos with sensitive content at all costs.  

Furthermore, it is very important to educate your family members about the risks involved in sharing photos online, especially kids and teenagers. Most of them share sensitive pictures with the opposite sex just for fun and pleasure. Many of them don’t know the implications of what they are doing. So, it would help if you enlightened them on this because it is very vital. They need to know the repercussions of sharing these images.

Lastly, always make sure you protect your online Account by putting them in private mode. This will ward off Cyber Criminals.

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