Strava fitness tracker could pose security risk for armed forces

Icon of Strava app. Courtesy Strava

He also pointed on Twitter that it was possible to locate jogging routes for soldiers, who had the app on for tracking during these activities, which is unsafe.

Since 2015, Strava has published a global heat map detailing the activity of its 27 million global users, based on their uploaded GPS data. Those features are what allow apps like Strava to create personalised maps of historic activity.

A fitness tracking app that posted a map with potentially sensitive information about its users is sparking concerns over how similar services protect personal data- and raising questions about what users can do to protect themselves. Giving away your data to a service can have its implications, especially when there is an open-for-all platform where anyone can have a look at the information. Audricia Harris. "Furthermore, operational security requirements provide further guidance for military personnel supporting operations around the world". To date, its logged more than 1 billion activities and 13 trillion data points. The perimeter of the main Russian base in Syria, Hmeimim, is clearly visible - as are several routes out of the base that are presumably taken by patrols, he said.

The US is not alone in being exposed - Chinese joggers in the South China Sea contributed data to the Strava map, as did workers on Taiwan's secret missile bases. For example, a father in Iowa honored the loss of his son to cancer by running routes that spelled out names of childhood cancer survivors.

It could also pose a danger for government officials posted in risky locations, like diplomats, who may not be in as secure locations as military personnel.

"It looks very pretty, but not wonderful for Op-Sec (operational security). We are committed to helping people better understand our settings to give them control over what they share", Strava said in an emailed statement.

Strava released a brief statement highlighting that the data used had been anonymised, and "excludes activities that have been marked as private and user-defined privacy zones".




Manning said the review would look at the use of all wearable electronics and smartphones.

"A lot of people are going to have to sit thru lectures come Monday morning", Schneider wrote, referring to soldiers likely to be taken to task for inadvertently revealing sensitive information while trying to keep in shape.

Most parts of the United States and Western Europe lit up on the map with plenty of recorded activities.

Journalists and analysts have been able to find a suspected Central Intelligence Agency base in Mogadishu, Somalia, a Patriot site in Yemen, and US special operations bases. CNN can not independently verify these claims.

US bases in Syria also show up on the map, according to defense analyst Tobias Schneider, as does the Hmeimim airbase, which is being used by Russian forces in the country. "Heavy jogging" at the airport in the capital of Mogadishu was spotted earlier by The Daily Beast's Adam Rawnsley.

The company said its heatmap is based on public data only.

The Washington Post says that while heatmaps are harmless in urban areas, they can be a major security risk in war zones.

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