May 21, 2018

Armed forces reassess security after Strava app reveals troop locations

30 January 2018, 12:46 | Rudolph Thomas

Image Strava

Image Strava

While the location of this missile base was already fairly public, there are potentially secret military bases around Taiwan, and around the world, that risk being unveiled by Strava.

Toward the end of previous year Strava released a data visualisation that contained all the activity tracked by its applications in one attractive map.

Smaller sites also appear on the map in northern and western Iraq, indicating the presence of other, lesser-known installations.

Twitter users have identified locations including a suspected Central Intelligence Agency base in Somalia, a Patriot missile defense system site in Yemen and United States special operations locations include a suspected Central Intelligence Agency base in Somalia, a Patriot missile defense system site in Yemen and USA special operations bases in the Sahel region of Africa. Plenty more were revealed by Ruser himself, such as a Russian and Turkish patrols near Khmeimim. The activities marked private aren't included on the map.

Taking a close look at these areas, users will see that some of them are known US military bases.

And the fallout of this remains to be seen.

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

We'd also bet that there'll be plenty of briefings over the next couple of days regarding the use of the platform in and around sensitive military areas.

A secretive special air service base has been inadvertently revealed by a fitness app that has created a heatmap of running routes around the country.

The Post added that other journalists on Twitter were also weighing in on what they identified to be US military bases. It allows users to count how much exercise they've done and share it with others, a fairly innocuous use and a common one with fitness trackers.

Nathan Ruser, an Australian university student who first highlighted the issue, said: "US bases are clearly identifiable and mappable. I shouldn't be able to establish any pattern of life info from this far away", Ruser tweeted.

Security and privacy researcher Lukasz Olejnik pointed out that anonymising location and fitness data is challenging and should always be considered on many different levels before publishing even aggregated data. In countries like Niger, the heatmap highlights the activity of USA soldiers on military bases keeping fit.

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

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