Hi guys,

An excellent article by Nikita Mazurov from the Intercept shows how easy it is to ‘uncrop’ a photo or document to see the original version before it was cropped. Most people think that when they crop an image or if they crop a document, they are discarding the pieces that have been removed, but the reality is that these pieces are not discarded; they are hidden from view.

Read the article here, and you can also do a test using a sample document that she uploaded to Google Drive. The message is straightforward, though, do not trust the cropping tool. Anybody can see what you have removed.

Here are a couple of paragraphs from the article:

“One of the hazards lies in the fact that, for some of the programs, downstream crop reversals are possible for viewers or readers of the document, not just the file’s creators or editors. Official instruction manuals, help pages, and promotional materials may mention that cropping is reversible, but this documentation at times fails to note that these operations are reversible by any viewers of a given image or document.

Uncropped versions of images can be preserved not just in Office apps, but also in a file’s own metadata. A photograph taken with a modern digital camera contains all types of metadata. Many image files record text-based metadata such as the camera make and model or the GPS coordinates at which the image was captured. Some photos also include binary data such as a thumbnail version of the original photo that may persist in the file’s metadata even after the photo has been edited in an image editor.”

“When dealing with especially sensitive materials that require cropping, resorting to the tried-and-true analog method of using scissors may be the safest approach.”

You can do the test for yourself HERE.

All the best,

Max Roberts,
Incognito Privacy Care Team.