The US Military Knew Fitness Apps Could Expose Sensitive Data Years Ago, But It’s Just Now Doing Something About It

Ryan Pickrell | China/Asia Pacific Reporter

The Daily Caller tipped off the U.S. Military in late 2015 about the potential security risks fitness apps pose, but it only decided to do something about it after the news went viral this past weekend, emails provided to The Daily Caller News Foundation show.

Strava, a popular app which tracks fitness activity via satellite, made headlines around the world this weekend after open source intelligence analysts discovered that the company’s Global Heat Map highlighting global athletic activity appears to also reveal movement at military installations, including forward operating bases and covert facilities at home and abroad.

The map, which was published November 2017, is an update of a map that went live in 2015. Emails sent to the Air Force showed possible national security threats the map data revealed. The Daily Caller informed the military that the Strava fitness app was tracking cycling activity around a highly-classified military base in the Nevada desert and publishing that information online.

The Pentagon initially told TheDCNF that this became a prominent issue after The Washington Post wrote a report Sunday calling attention to the national security threats associated with the Strava fitness app.

When TheDCNF informed the military that it was actually notified about the risks two years ago, the Pentagon seemed surprised. It was at this point that a Pentagon spokesman revealed that the U.S. military was not unaware of the issue, but this clear operational security issue “was not a big blip on the radar.”

“This really rose to a significant presence over the weekend,” the Department of Defense spokesman told TheDCNF, adding, “We have to get some folks together to take a look at this.”

The Pentagon explained that there are annual training and policy guidance sessions and that military personnel are instructed to exercise caution when posting on social media platforms. “Clearly, we need to take a look at all that,” the Pentagon said, adding that the DoD is “concerned” and that defense officials are trying to determine “what impact this might have on operational security.” The Defense Department plans to issue additional recommendations to military personnel to prevent unauthorized and potentially dangerous information leaks.

“DoD 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,” Maj. Audricia Harris, a different Defense Department spokesperson, told TheDCNF.

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