Fitness app Strava may have unknowingly revealed locations and activities of U.S. military bases — including those in Iraq and Syria — through GPS tracking, according to reports.
Calling itself the “social network for athletes,” Strava allows users to record, map and share their workouts online. In November, the company revealed a global heat map which highlights the movements of subscribers via satellite. This apparently includes U. S. soldiers and military personnel who use the app when exercising in remote locations around the world.
Now security analysts are saying that sharing the information could compromise security.
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The discovery was first noted by a 20-year-old Austrian student named Nathan Ruser who is studying international security and the Middle East.
On Saturday, he wrote on Twitter that the data from Strava “looks very pretty, but not amazing for Op-Sec. US bases are clearly identifiable and mappable.”
Strava released their global heatmap. 13 trillion GPS points from their users (turning off data sharing is an option). https://t.co/hA6jcxfBQI … It looks very pretty, but not amazing for Op-Sec. US Bases are clearly identifiable and mappable pic.twitter.com/rBgGnOzasq
— Nathan Ruser (@Nrg8000) January 27, 2018
“If soldiers use the app like normal people do, by turning it on tracking when they go to do exercise, it could be especially dangerous. This particular track looks like it logs a regular jogging route. I shouldn’t be able to establish any Pattern of life info from this far away,” Ruser tweeted.
Strava “is sitting on a ton of data that most intelligence entities would literally kill to acquire,” tweeted Dr. Jeffrey Lewis of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, California.
Strava said in a statement to CNN that the company is “committed to helping people better understand” its privacy settings.
“Our global heatmap represents an aggregated and anonymized view of over a billion activities uploaded to our platform. It excludes activities that have been marked as private and user-defined privacy zones,” it said.
According to CNN, Pentagon spokeswoman Maj. Audricia Harris said the Department of Defense “takes matters like these very seriously and is reviewing the situation to determine if any additional training or guidance is required, and if any additional policy must be developed to ensure the continued safety of DoD personnel at home and abroad.”