Jogging app Strava reveals highly sensitive information about U.S. soldiers' location

  • Jogging app Strava reveals highly sensitive information about U.S. soldiers' location

Jogging app Strava reveals highly sensitive information about U.S. soldiers' location

Data published online showing the whereabouts of people who have been using Strava fitness devices appears to have revealed sensitive information about the location and movements of members of the United States military. For example, the shows popular routes walked around a camp in Gao in Mali, where Dutch soldiers are on mission, AD reports.

This is luckily not a problem for the Dutch soldiers in Mali, whose location is not a secret.

Over the weekend a company called Strava, a social network for athletes, which mapped out the routes of 1 billion workouts in 2017.

Lines of gold and red outline the various roads and routes that folks using the app frequent.

The US military is also examining the situation, the Washington Post reported.

Users who record their exercise data on Strava have the option of making their movements public or private. It was released back in November 2017, but it came to the fore this weekend when Australian student Nathan Ruser noticed that trails from Strava users in certain countries made it possible to identify military from the USA and other nations.

Unfortunately, by celebrating this fact, they unwittingly shared the exercise patterns and specific routes chosen by USA military personnel in states, including Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Millions of users track their location data with Strava while exercising, often using a fitness tracker worn on the wrist or a smartphone to automatically upload their location as they jog or cycle.

The Strava app also has a private mode, which does not allow the information to move out of the app.

The heat map is not just a US military problem.

It shows military bases in countries such as Syria and Afghanistan, and can even reveal their regular patrols - putting soldiers at risk of terrorism, ambush and worse.

And while Ruser made his discovery largely because of his focus on Syria's section of the map, his finding prompted security experts to root through Strava's data, unearthing more activity at USA and other countries' bases in sensitive areas - and leading to questions of how an opposing force could possibly use the data.

Strava released their global heatmap.

Although the data was released in November 2017, a member of the Institute for United Conflict Analysts (UCA), Nathan Ruser, only recently found that trails from Strava users in various countries could bust the military locations of the USA and other nations.

Nathan Ruser, a 20-year-old Australian student and analyst for the Institute for United Conflict Analysts, noted on Twitter on Saturday that the map made USA bases "clearly identifiable and mappable".

Strava has been tracking down activities since 2015, and has over three trillion GPS points uploaded to its system, the company says.

"We are committed to helping people better understand our settings to give them control over what they share", it said.

Scott Lafoy, an open-source imagery analyst, told CNN it's too early to truly assess how useful the data is.

A quick look at the map shows heavily illuminated areas in North America and Europe, where fitness tracker devices installed with Strava are heavily used.