Are Fitness Apps Compromising our Military?

heat map

By Debbie Gregory.

A fitness app’s heat map could pose risks for security forces around the world by revealing the location of where they are exercising, causing the U.S. Central Command to refine its privacy policies.

“The coalition is in the process of implementing refined guidance on privacy settings for wireless technologies and applications, and such technologies are forbidden at certain coalition sites and during certain activities,” a Central Command spokesperson said.

Strava, a social network for athletes, and allows its users to share their running routes that show up on a global heat map. From the site, it’s possible to identify individuals’ running routes, and around military bases users had posted profile photos of themselves wearing military uniforms.

Although the Strava tool doesn’t offer a real-time view of the battlespace, it demonstrates that U.S. military personnel might be vulnerable because of their unsecured consumer tech.

The outlines of known military bases around the world are clearly visible on the map, especially in countries like Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, where few locals own exercise tracking devices.

The situation came to light when 20-year-old Australian student Nathan Ruser noticed that, since most of Strava’s users are Westerners and there aren’t many Strava users in the Middle East, Central Asia and Northern Africa, the Strava workouts that do appear in those regions likely represent the activity of Western troops.

Others began noticing Strava workouts in Iraq, Somalia and Niger that seemed to represent secret military outposts.

In response to the Strava heat map revelations, a Pentagon spokesperson said that it was considering additional security training for service members.

But Strava has a good fix for U.S. military personnel: just opt out of sharing data with the company.

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