How to View Hidden Data in Pictures
Digital cameras are everywhere. It has become easier than ever to take pictures of just about everything. Most people don’t realize, however, that every time you take a picture with virtually any type of digital camera, information about the camera and the picture are embedded within the saved image file.
Information such as shutter speed, exposure compensation, F-number, if a flash was used, ISO number, date and time the image was taken, white balance, and resolution are some of the data that is stored. Some images also store GPS information so you can see where the image was taken.
You can view the image’s EXIF (exchangeable image file) information with a variety of online data viewers. The EXIF data contained in images can reveal some hidden but valuable information about a photograph. Several web-based EXIF data viewers have been created to let anyone find the information about any digital image at any time.
I have known for a while that additional information is available in every digital picture. I did not understand the implications until I was listening to a presentation on insurance claims fraud. Adjusters often use services like this to get a better understanding of where a picture was taken, and if the pictures have been altered in any way.
Three websites you can use to view EXIF data embedded in digital photographs are:
Jeffrey’s EXIF Viewer: This site allows you to check an image on the Internet or a photograph saved on your hard drive. This viewer works with many image types, such as JPEG, PNG, CRW, PSD, SVG, etc. Be aware that this site is very plain and doesn’t have any bells and whistles.
VerEXIF: This site allows you to view the details under which the images were taken. It also allows you to remove such data online without installing any program. This could be helpful if GPS data has been included in the EXIF information. You may not want someone to know the specific location where a picture was taken. Many digital cameras that have GPS capabilities automatically include this information in pictures unless you have specifically turned that functionality off. This site has a 5 MB image size limit.
EXIFdata: The site is similar to the other two but has a 10 MB image size limit.
There are several ways your agency could use this information:
- Verify the actual date and time a picture was taken. This will help you make sure the picture was recently taken and is not an old picture.
- If GPS information is embedded in the picture, you can verify the location of the picture. In a homeowner situation this could help you match the picture location to the property location.
- If you suspect claims fraud, the picture information submitted with the claim may be able to help you determine if you should alert the claims adjuster.
Have you or your agency ever used this type of information? If so, leave a comment below.