It’s pretty simple: Your mobile’s global positioning system (GPS) functionality allows location-based services to locate and publish information about your whereabouts on various applications and within the code of photos posted online. Various applications allow you to “check in” using your mobile and share your whereabouts with the world. These applications tap into your device’s GPS longitude and latitude data.

GPS certainly can be useful, such as with directions or when trying to find a local restaurant, but letting the world know where you are and where you aren’t every minute of the day is a little insane to me.

For example, when your location is broadcast on social networks, anyone can see it. An example is when you check into a hotel while on vacation. Thieves can see you’re not home, do an online search for your home address and burgle your house. Not cool.

Adults, teens and some kids use these services to meet up, but what could happen if your child’s exact location fell into the wrong hands? Parents now have to be particularly vigilant if their children use location-based services.

Freaky stalkers use GPS to track their victims. A stalker may not necessarily be a stranger but instead a family member, ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend using his or her personal access to manually turn on GPS tracking.

Always be aware of an application’s policy and access permissions. GPS data is also used in geotagging, which tracks exactly where photos and videos are taken by including data in the image file that records locations.

Many of us are unaware of this tracking feature, even though sharing images online has become immensely popular. Websites such as Facebook, Instagram, Flickr and YouTube are filled with pictures and videos that include location information. Always keep in mind this is personal information that you may be sharing inadvertently.

By using a VPN (virtual private network) appsuch as Hotspot Shield VPN, your mobile’s IP address is masked; this confuses some of the functionality in geotagging. So if you’re going to go without it, think before you turn on GPS and start snapping pictures to post.

Robert Siciliano is an Identity Theft Expert to Hotspot Shield VPN. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen See him discussing internet and wireless security on Good Morning America. Disclosures. For Roberts FREE ebook text- SECURE Your@emailaddress -to 411247.

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