Strava Fitness Tracker Reveals Military Bases Around The World

The Pentagon shows very little activity    
   Image Strava
The Pentagon shows very little activity Image Strava

30 January, 2018

The US marines have had clear policies on the use of "personal wearable fitness devices" on base since 2016. To date, its logged more than 1 billion activities and 13 trillion data points.

In November 2017, online fitness tracker Strava published a heatmap of the activity many of its users around the world engage in (and track) daily.

The seeming lapses in operational security highlighted by Strava's Heat Map were first pointed out by Nathan Ruser, a university student who studies the Middle East and security issues in Sydney, Australia.

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.

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.

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While some bases are well known to groups that might want to attack them, the map also shows what appear to be routes taken by forces moving outside of bases - information that could be used in planning bombings or ambushes. This has raised security concerns about personnel at U.S. military bases around the world.

"Our global heatmap represents an aggregated and anonymised view of over a billion activities uploaded to our platform. We are committed to helping people better understand our settings to give them control over what they share". The activities marked private aren't included on the map. The data is not live but it does reveal patterns, locations, and routines. The freely-available heatmap, which can be accessed here, can zoom into any part of the world and detail the cycling or jogging routes of its users.

According to the Washington Post, the USA military is looking into the situation. "Big opsec and persec fail", tweeted Nick Waters, a former British Army officer who pinpointed the location of his former base in Afghanistan using the map.

Journalists and analysts have been able to find a suspected Central Intelligence Agency base in Mogadishu, Somalia, a Patriot site in Yemen, and USA special operations bases. The BBC reported that British military bases in the likes of Malvinas / Falklands lit up on the heatmap, and even a missile command site in Taiwan was highlighted.

"Recent data releases emphasize the need for situational awareness when members of the military share personal information", Major Audricia Harris, a Pentagon spokeswoman, told AFP.

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