USA soldiers using Fitbit accidentally map sensitive military sites

USA soldiers using Fitbit accidentally map sensitive military sites

USA soldiers using Fitbit accidentally map sensitive military sites

While the app does offer users the option to regulate or even turn off data sharing, most users chose to keep their data trackers on to take full advantage of the app's services.

What Else Did The Strava Global Heat Map Reveal?

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.

In large cities and well-known locations, the highlighted routes are hardly surprising, with dense urban areas lit up brightly compared to unpopulated areas or places without many app users. "Recent data releases emphasize the need for situational awareness when members of the military share personal information", said Pentagon spokeswoman Harris.

It's unlikely the vulnerabilities are limited to just USA military bases, although fortunately, you can shut off data sharing in the app, something the company quickly recommended military personnel do.

According to the Washington Post, the U.S. military is looking into the situation.

Posting an image of a route to and from a base, Ruser noted: "This particular track looks like it logs a regular jogging route". The most popular routes in any given area then form heatmaps, which effectively reveal not only the locations of military bases, but effectively create digital maps of their layouts. Known military sites like Diego Garcia in the Pacific Ocean and the Falkland Islands' RAF Mount Pleasant also show activity.

The San Francisco-based company said data used in the map was made anonymously and doesn't include data "marked as private and user-defined privacy zones".

A closer look at those areas brings into focus the locations and outlines of well-known U.S. military bases, as well as other lesser-known and potentially sensitive sites - possibly because American soldiers and other personnel are using fitness trackers as they move around.

But the data also offers a mine of information to anyone who wanted to attack or ambush U.S. troops, said Schneider.

In a statement to CNN, Strava said the company is "committed to helping people better understand" its privacy settings.

A statement from the company said: "Our global heatmap represents an aggregated and anonymised view of over a billion activities uploaded to our platform".

"It got a lot more traction than I would have expected", said Ruser, who expected interest among data analysts, not mainstream media. Privacy settings within the app are supposed to allow users to opt out of the tracking system. "I expected it to languish in wonk circles and open source circles until the US government quietly fixed the problem, but instead it seems to have blown up a lot more than I would have thought".

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