Sensitive information about the locations of known and unknown American military bases and overseas operations centers, as well as the regular activities of U.S. military personnel, appears to have been exposed by a fitness tracking app.
The interactive Global Heat Map, published by Strava last November, highlights the fitness activities of its 27 million global users, including mobile app users and people with fitness devices. This weekend, analysts discovered that the map is detailed enough to reveal regular movement at military installations, according to multiple reports.
In less developed regions, such as the Middle East, American and other foreign military installations tend to light up like Christmas trees on Strava’s new map.
The map, a new feature for the popular exercise app used by military personnel and civilians alike, was created to show hot routes for runners and cyclists, but analysts have noticed that in addition to tracking down bases, Strava’s global fitness map can also be used to identify regular patrol routes.
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
Journalists and analysts have been able to find a suspected CIA base in Mogadishu, Somalia, a Patriot site in Yemen, and U.S. special operations bases. The fitness app does not solely allow people to find sensitive U.S. information. “It took about ten seconds to figure out how I would use this to pick out every missile site in half a dozen countries,” international arms expert Jeffrey Lewis wrote on Twitter in response to the news.
The U.S. military is investigating the potential impact of the Strava map, according to The Washington Post.
The app reportedly has an option to turn off tracking, but it appears that many users, including military personnel, have failed to do so. This oversight could potentially pose a risk to active duty personnel, including those on covert missions. Not only can enemies determine patterns of behavior, but they can also acquire valuable information about activities at secret military installations overseas.
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