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How to block sensitive photo information on an Apple iPhone
Security & privacy

Warning: Anyone can undo this common way to block sensitive info in a photo

Social media always gets flooded with people posting photos of where they are jetting off to. Some will even share a screenshot of their flight details or boarding passes. Tap or click here to see why you should never do that.

Those who are somewhat aware of the risks try to conceal sensitive information. It is a clever thing to do, as it has been proven that a hacker only needs the barcode on your boarding pass to retrieve your details.

But what about screenshots? If you don’t want the world to see your private conversation sections, you could give it the same blackout treatment. Well, read on to find out why that isn’t such a good idea and can easily be circumvented.

Here’s the backstory

It’s a great idea to hide sensitive information from being visible online. Even a screenshot could contain personal details. The virtual equivalent of redacting information is to open the image in your iPhone’s editing app and drag a marker over text.

On the surface, that might seem like a job well done. But as a TikTok user recently demonstrated, it’s only a simple measure that can easily be reversed. Any blacked-out image posted to social media can effortlessly be edited on an iPhone to reveal the details underneath.

TikTok user ambre_skye showed her 780,000 followers how it is done, warning others to be more careful with personal details. If an image has been edited with a digital marker or pen, you can adjust the brightness to see through the markings.

By turning up the exposure and the brilliance of the image, any alterations made with the editing app’s marker or pen utility will disappear. And that is all there is to it.  

What you can do about it

No matter how inconsequential you think it might be, your information is more valuable than what you might realize. If you believe it is sensitive enough to redact for a screenshot, someone else will agree and possibly use it against you.

Here are some fool-proof ways that you can share info from a screenshot without compromising your safety.

  • Don’t try to alter the image with editing software. As demonstrated, there are ways to get around it.
  • The best way to keep information from being seen is to completely crop it out of the image. If it’s not included in the sharable photo, nobody will be able to gather details from it.

To crop an image on an iPhone:

  • Open the screenshot in the Photos app.
  • Tap Edit in the top right corner.
  • In the bottom bar, tap the third icon, which looks like zig-zags with two arrows around it. This is the cropping function.
  • Your image will now have a border around it and cropping guidelines in the corners.
  • Drag each corner until only the information you want to share is in the borders.
  • After a second or two, only the selected area will be visible inside the border. When you are happy with the crop, tap Done at the bottom.

If you have no other means for redacting information, swipe over the text several times with the iPhone’s marker during the editing process. Make sure that you leave your finger pressed every time you change direction, as that will create several layers that eventually can’t be penetrated.

Keep reading

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Tech tip: How to take a screenshot of an entire webpage on your iPhone

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