Latest in Gear

Image credit: Strava/The Guardian

Strava fitness tracking data reveals details of secret bases

Health apps may pose inadvertent risks to troops.
1408 Shares
Share
Tweet
Share
Save

Sponsored Links

Strava/The Guardian

Location data in fitness apps is frequently a good thing, since it helps you remember and optimize your routes. However, it's also producing an unexpected security risk: it's revealing details of secret military bases. UCA analyst Nathan Ruser has discovered that Strava's publicly available activity map includes the fitness routes of soldiers and agents in sensitive locations, including American bases in Afghanistan and Syria, the UK's Mount Pleasant airbase in the Falkland Islands, a suspected CIA base in Somalia and even Area 51. It's mostly American and British troops who show up, but Russian bases have also been outlined by the Strava data.

While many of these locations are well known, they may give away info that governments might not want public, such as the likely location of living quarters and the most frequently-trafficked paths. In Afghanistan, the activity data extends beyond bases and hint at patrol or supply routes.

Strava has reminded users that they could turn off location sharing, and that the map doesn't include private activities or areas deemed private. Many people aren't aware of what the app shares, however, and might not understand the implications of publicly sharing that data from sensitive locations. And of course, not every fitness-minded app has a public activity map that makes searches easy. It's doubtful that Strava could have considered every possible effect in advance, but this is a reminder that open data can sometimes include more than some would be comfortable with. Likewise, this might prompt militaries to limit smartphone use or educate soldiers on the importance of privacy.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Comment
Comments
Share
1408 Shares
Share
Tweet
Share
Save

Popular on Engadget

Engadget's 2019 Back-to-School Guide

Engadget's 2019 Back-to-School Guide

View
Hideo Kojima debuts six-minute 'Death Stranding' gameplay video

Hideo Kojima debuts six-minute 'Death Stranding' gameplay video

View
NVIDIA's game streaming service comes to Android this fall

NVIDIA's game streaming service comes to Android this fall

View
Study finds US carriers aggressively throttle video streams

Study finds US carriers aggressively throttle video streams

View
Two Halo characters are joining ‘Gears 5’

Two Halo characters are joining ‘Gears 5’

View

From around the web

Page 1Page 1ear iconeye iconFill 23text filevr