Fake Location: How Vacations Selfies will get You Robbed

Fake Location: How Vacations Selfies will get You Robbed

What is the point of flying more than a thousand miles from Miami to St. Bart’s if there will be no jealous people on social media to see that? Well, the point is to enjoy yourself and not to get your home robbed while you are away. Thankfully, you can fake location data by using a few tools and hopefully a bit of patience. This way, you can be both safe and admired by people who needed to work over the summer.

The first issue when it comes to concealing your private information will be cyber hygiene. You will need a bit of discipline not to tell everyone on the internet where you are at all times. Common sense should inform you not to say to strangers where they can hurt you, and this should translate to your online behavior.

Finally, you can always use a VPN to keep your information hidden from both malicious people online and in real life. By using a premium VPN provider, like Le VPN, you can mask your IP address with locations around the world, not letting anyone know you were on vacation until you are back.

This will also give you some time to retouch your photos, edit your videos, and maybe cut out some failed summer romances from experience.

What is Geolocation?

Fake Location: How Vacations Selfies will get You Robbed. | Le VPN

As the name suggests, it is your geographic location. While the term itself is self-explanatory, the ways devices, services, and other entities get this data is a bit more complicated. There are several ways how someone would know where you are depending on the tool they are using to find you. There could also be some that you are using to show your location.

Additionally, there is an option to embed data into images, videos, or even audio files to show where you are sending from, or where you were when you took the picture.

On its own, location software is not malicious. It wasn’t made with the ideas for the Illuminati to round us up when the reckoning happens. Regardless, it is still private data. Giving useful private data to people you don’t know is always a bad idea. From companies and governments that are harvesting your information for sales or policy, to outright burglars knowing you’re not at home.

But, if you know how data-relations work, you will be able to still post your images and videos to social media, without putting yourself in danger. Failing to do so can cost you your safety, and even your insurance claim if your house gets robbed.

GPS vs. Data Location

While there are other ways for someone to learn your location from a photo, especially if they recognize it, there are only two main ways for AI and hackers to learn this. You will either be using a Global Positioning System, or GPS or send your data via your IP address and the known location of the server or data tower.

A GPS is much more accurate when it comes to finding your device, as it uses a satellite in geosynchronous orbit to pinpoint precisely where the signal is coming from. Depending on your region, a GPS can tell your location in a radius from three feet to about fifty feet.

When using your data location, you ask the location of the nearest data tower or server, and embedding that into the files. Geo IP location is not as exact, and can even be up to several miles. But, your precise location is not essential when it comes to the information that you are not at home.

Finally, as is the case with most personal information, issues arise with combining different data from different periods. The information where you are might not be useful on its own but can become priceless if someone, like a burglar, knows where you live.

Best Capture the Flag Game in History

As mentioned, there are other ways to determine your exact location from a picture, even if there is no location data involved. While most people will never experience this level of ‘’weaponized autism’’, it did come after the acclaimed actor Shia LeBeouf.

The actor placed a flag in protest, and people online wanted to make fun of him and stole the flag that was on a live stream. Next, he moved it to a secluded location in a rural area, where someone online uses the pattern of the stars shown on the video to pinpoint the location.

Later, there were a few other such incidents, each funnier than the last.

Legitimate Uses for Geolocation

While posting your location online is generally a bad idea, there are a few occasions where it might come in useful. This is exclusive to data that can’t be connected to your personal information and can’t be used against you.

Being able to keep track of your location when traveling, or when trying to find your way, is a good tool to have. But, you must be certain that your private information is staying private.

The best idea is to emit a fake location until you do your work, and then write a blog telling about the actual location you have been to.

Travel Blogs

If you are lucky enough to make a living by traveling and reporting from different locations, you might want to keep tracks where you’ve been and the exact location of the pictures you have taken.

As you will be writing your experiences and publishing content regardless, you may leave the location data intact, and even leave a link to that location on the blog. Other data that you give out shouldn’t be real, as to protect yourself and your loved ones from the dangers lurking online.

The best course of action is to make an alias to use online and in your videos and photos. This way, even though people will have your current location, they won’t have anything else. Basically, you will be protecting your real identity for the same reason Batman does it.

Education Content

As there is an increasing number of people making educational content and publishing it online. In these cases, you will need to leave some information to archive and edit the content correctly.

But, in the same way as media personalities and other public educators usually use a different set of tools and information for work and in their private life, so should you. Making an online alias or simply using a different set of tools for work would do wonders for your cybersecurity.

If your filming studio is in your home, there is no reason to place location information stamps anywhere. You should disable GPS services from your phone, your camera, and all other devices, and use VPN to connect to the internet.

Maps and Tourism

Google Maps and similar services are essential tools when traveling anywhere, even if it is the next town over. But, if you haven’t used a VPN service on your phone and you leave your GPS casually on at all times, you can see that Google records all of the locations you have ever been, ever.

If someone was ever to hack your Google account, they might find this map and see your complete daily itinerary and habits. Additionally, they will be able to follow you wherever you go. Because of this, your travel account and your necessary Google account should not be your main account that houses all of your data.

Additionally, disable your GPS whenever you don’t need it, and always keep your VPN connection enabled on your phone. This way, you will lower the chance of any information leaking out and leaving you exposed to malicious software and hackers.

Safety and Security

There is one option where you actually want a GPS from your loved ones to be enabled at all times; That is when you have a child traveling without you. Depending on their age and ability, you might need to check on your child when they are returning from school or going out somewhere with friends.

Using Google Maps tracking, you can see the exact location of your child. You can even use this tool on your iPhone or Android apps, or directly from a desktop.

Even if this is the case, your child’s phone and your smartphone or computer should be connected with a VPN.

Vanity Uses for Geolocation

Because this is a subject that will hit too close to home for some, we should keep it short and with as little judgment as humanly possible. We are all quite strange animals, and we will often sacrifice our safety and security just to score a couple of vanity points.

This is normal but doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t employ some higher cognitive abilities to protect ourselves when we are doing so. By masking our IP address with a VPN and spoofing GPS coordinates, we can pick out the location miles away from our own, while still keeping the bragging rights.

Instagram Bragging

Instagram is the home of vanity. In our desire to outdo our friends and even celebrities, we have managed to lead completely fabricated lives on this social media platform.

Ironically, doing socially unacceptable and being completely fake on Instagram is good for your cybersecurity. Tagging a fake location and accounts of people you don’t know would work wonders to prevent tracking and data collection.

Even so, when you are posting pictures on Instagram, it is best not to place a location tag. Additionally, you can always be late for a few days or weeks and post old images. This will prevent anyone from trying to track you or doxx you from learning about your real identity.

Twitter Authority

Even worse than having a fake life and fake location on Instagram is having one on twitter. Actually, leaving any personal information on the platform can be detrimental and leave you vulnerable to twitter mobs, doxxers, and hackers.

Some people, who may or may not be Russian bots, change their location on Twitter to seem like they are commenting from another country or region. This way, they are trying to give themselves authority how they know what they are talking about.

Don’t believe anything you hear from Twitter. Regime or opposition, obscure accounts or official corporation handles, nothing is real on this platform.

Review Bragging

Issues that have risen with people using services and platforms like Foursquare or Yelp are the reason why GPS location spoofing and VPN hotspot apps became so popular.

Namely, thieves, both digital and regular, used the information people were posting on these platforms to know when they are away from home. This way, they know when they would be able to rob them without the chance of turning robbery into murder.

In the end, even hackers and thieves from Facebook were scouting men and women who gave their private information to find a good mark. Data collectors managed to figure out what people had in their homes and scored half a million dollars from a British soccer player.

Risks of Telling People Where You are

Risks of telling people your location are similar to ones you would get from sharing other personal information. Even making your travel plan public might do the same thing. Additionally, any booking information that you make public can be traced back to you. This way, a hacker can learn about your address in your home city and even your banking information.

Aside from simply publishing your information for everyone, you can also be targeted by catfishes and scam artists. The scammer can present themselves as a young girl, a fellow tourist, or even a prospective partner and ask about your trip. Once you give them the information, they will sell it to a burglar, and you will have your valuables stolen from your home.

Giving out Your IP Address

If you don’t use a VPN when you are traveling, you will be showing your location any time you go online. Your IP address will be disclosed, which will show your new location compared to the data tower or ISP of the hotel you are staying.

The best way to go protecting your location data is to use a premium VPN with a good hotspot app. There should be an app for either iPhone or Android or any other type of device that you may carry.

Facial Recognition Database

It is very hard to run away from Big Brother. Also, depending on the legal system you find yourself in, you may unwillingly get your face stolen for marketing purposes, or worse.

Generally, it is possible to mask and distort image data without changing how it looks to human eyes, but this is questionable and can become obsolete quite soon. If you really need to place any images of your face online, just make sure your other information is not connected. Also, you shouldn’t be posting images on doggy websites.

Tracking Your Own Movement

Giving out your GPS location means that someone having access to your device via apps or similar methods can basically track your movement. Additionally, there is always the government that owns the satellite, but that is reserved only for serious cases.

The problem here is that you can’t be sure that your GPS is really turned off once you disable it, especially on modern smartphones. A much better way to go is to download a fake GPS location app that will show a fake location instead of your own. This way, you can mask your current location with a spoofed location and keep using all of the services as normal.

Telling People that Your Home is Empty

Unless you have active security guards or live in a gated community, telling people that you will not be home for a couple of weeks is not a good idea. People who should have this information are your closes friends and family, but never the internet at large.

Going even further, it is usually a good idea to publicize the fact that you even went on vacation only once you have already returned. This way, you would not need to bother with downloading apps to spoof a fake location on your phone, but rather just a bit of patience.

Making a Fake Location

To appear as if you are in a fake location, you should use a VPN to change your IP location. If you are using a premium provider like Le VPN, this will be easy as they have servers in more than 100+ locations where you can connect through.

As for your GPS, you are going to need an app that will show a spoofed location. Depending on your device OS, you can find an Android app on Google Play, or the one for iPhone on the App Store.

Otherwise, you can always disable the GPS system and get a blocker to prevent a third-party app from enabling it again.


Using geolocation applications is not the worst thing you can do, and there is hardly a way to go around it if you are using social media. But, you should take preventative measure not to become a victim while you are relaxing on some white sandy beach.

Thankfully, it is relatively easy to show a fake location and to protect yourself. You can use Le VPN to mask your IP address and remove any Geo IP data, and you can use an app to mimic a wrong GPS location.

This way you can post all of those images without anyone taking you for a ride, except the tourist trap cabs.



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Written by Vuk Mujović @VukMujovic

Vuk Mujović is the founder of MacTíre Consulting, an analyst, data management expert, and a long-term writer on all things business & tech. He authored blogs, articles, and opinion pieces aimed to help both companies and individuals achieve growth without compromising their security. Vuk is a regular guest author to Le VPN Blog since January 2018, where he gives his expert opinion on the topics related to cybersecurity, privacy, online freedom, and personal data protection. He also often shares his tips and best practices in relation to internet security and digital safety of private individuals and small businesses, including some additional applications of using a VPN service.

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