A fitness app might have created a huge problem for the US military
Don't you hate it when you tell people how great you are and accidentally leak sensitive military information?
An online fitness tracker known as Strava might have accidentally created a few security concerns for the US military by showing the exercise routes of its personnel in various bases around the world.
Strava is a San Francisco-based company, which developed an app that enables users to assess their athletic performance - one key feature is that it uses GPS to track a person's exercise activity.
This became a problem after Strava published a "heatmap" which has detailed the exact routes that each of its users have exercised.
Unfortunately, by celebrating this fact, they unwittingly shared the exercise patterns and specific routes chosen by US military personnel in states, including Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.
The heatmaps show a relatively clear structure of various foreign military bases located around the world. While it is not concerning that the general layout of the bases has been released, the main problem is that Strava has clearly marked which exercise routes are most commonly used.
The issue was first raised by Nathan Ruser, a 20-year-old international security student at the Australian National University.
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
The Global Heatmap was released at the beginning of November, at which time its creators were boasting that it was the "largest, richest, and most beautiful dataset of its kind" (a sentiment enemies of the US will definitely agree with).
Breaking down the data, they went on to say Strava's map consisted of "1 billion activities, 3 trillion latitude/longitude points, 13 trillion pixels rasterized, 10 terabytes of raw input data, a total distance of 27 billion km (17 billion miles), a total recorded activity duration of 200 thousand years [and] 5% of all land on Earth covered by tiles."
All they need to add now is "one 20-year-old student who points out the massive security flaw for military personnel stationed abroad."
Sounds like the plot to an episode of The Big Bang Theory, if you ask us.