Deep Background

Metadata Nabs Mogul

As our reliance on digital devices becomes second nature, it’s easy to forget about the metadata embedded in digital files. This metadata can provide all kinds of useful — and revealing — facts about not just who created the information, but also precisely when and where it was created.

It also provided a dramatic, high-tech plot twist in one of the most captivating news stories of recent months.

Murder, intrigue, drug gangs, press manipulation…A software magnate turned outlaw…Amid the lurid true-life details of John McAfee’s story lies an instructive — or cautionary — reminder about the pervasiveness of not-so-hidden digital information.

Last December, journalists from Vice magazine who were traveling with the fugitive McAfee bragged about their exclusive access by posting a story on the Vice website, snarkily headlined, “We Are With John McAfee Right Now, Suckers.” As proof, they posted a photo of themselves with McAfee.


Shortly after the photo was posted, a reader noticed the picture contained embedded GPS location information in the metadata of the photo. He posted this to Twitter, and Guatemalan Police had McAfee in custody soon thereafter.

Click on the link below to read more.

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