'I Know Where Your Cat Lives' is a real website, and we used it to find a Phoenix family

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(Source: Courtesy of Louis Girten) (Source: Courtesy of Louis Girten)

Where can you find a database of 1 million cats and where they live? The internet, of course. IKnowWhereYourCatLives.com is an experiment by a Florida State University Professor, proving how easy it is to learn a ton of information about you, solely based on what you post.

"He was a cuddler, concerned about other animal's hygiene," said Louis Girten, whose cat, Sam, is on the site.

"I thought they were within the neighborhood, but they go the exact house," Girten said. His name wasn't on there; we had to figure that out ourselves. And in a sad twist, it turns out we actually don't know where Louis' cat lives. He ran away. 

"It felt like an invasion of privacy at first, but after thinking about it, it's an interesting experiment now," Girten said.

"We, as citizens, are especially vulnerable because we didn't even know that stuff was there," said Brett Scott, the co-founder of the Arizona Cyber Warfare Range. They teach people cyber skills for free.

All of the photos on IKnowWhereYourCatLives.com are publicly available on sites like Instagram,Twitpic, and Flickr. Scott said every file, like a photo, has metadata. And if you download the right tools, you can access that data.

"I'm sure there's a part of your audience saying, 'Well, I'm not a target of exif data, the fact that they know where my house is, no big deal,'" Scott said. "Well, enjoy that life."

Scott said there are always going to be predators looking to get your information to use it against you. 

"We could do a project right here this afternoon," Scott said. "Find me every photo that has exif data, and find me a geotag. I can use that same data to find your social media, see what you're talking about." And Scott said that can be used to sell you something, or even sway your beliefs. 

The good news is, Scott said it appears these services are now catching on, and not leaking as much information. 

"I'm happy to see some of these services that were revealing information a few months back are doing a better job of not revealing information," Scott said.

Girten said he's not leaving it up to the sites to protect him from himself.

"You got to watch the photos you put out, what you say, you've got employers watching, everybody's watching now," Girten said. 

The Cyber Warfare Range said there are services that strip the data from your files before you post, but you have to make sure you're using reputable ones. They recommend trying this one.

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