Strava app's fitness tracking data could harm USA military operational security

Strava app's fitness tracking data could harm USA military operational security

Sites that experts believe are shown by Strava's map include a suspected Central Intelligence Agency base in Mogadishu, Patriot site in Yemen, US special operations base in the Sahel, and a site in Syria where the US military is suspected of building a base.

In warzones and deserts such as Iraq and Syria, the heatmap becomes nearly entirely dark - except for a few scattered pinpricks of activity. The fitness app Strava, available for both iOS and Android, launched a giant, updated map of its users' fitness activities this past November.

The data can be cross-referenced with Google Maps and has shown jogging routes of soldiers at U.S. military bases in the Middle East and Afghanistan.

Strava responded to the report, saying in a statement that "our global heat map represents an aggregated and anonymized view of over a billion activities uploaded to our platform" and that it "excludes activities that have been marked as private and user-defined privacy zones".

Routes ringed the whole outline of the base and the pathways between most of the buildings frequently used by Australian and US personnel.

The issue lies when the activity maps show up in unknown and potentially sensitive sites, presumably because the soldiers stationed to these locations are using their fitness devices.

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Taking a close look at these areas, users will see that some of them are known US military bases. In 2013, the Pentagon distributed 2,500 Fitbits as part of a pilot programme to combat obesity.

Ruser zoomed in on Syria, and discovered where the US soldiers were knowingly and secretly located. Most of the bases that can be seen are already publicly known.

Prompted by the observations of 20-year-old Australian student Nathan Ruser, experts weighing in on Twitter have spotted what look to be USA and allied bases in Syria, French outposts in Niger, and Turkish troops on patrol in Syria.

The Pentagon has publicly acknowledged that US special operations soldiers maintain a small outpost at Tanf in the Syrian desert near the Iraqi border, which shows up on the map as a neatly illuminated oblong, probably because USA soldiers wearing Fitbits or similar devices either jog or patrol around the perimeter.

Tobias Schneider, a German-based global security analyst, told the Post that since the identity of the users in the map remain anonymous, some individuals could part of outside groups like aid agencies. Concentrations of light inside a base may indicate where troops live, eat or work, suggesting possible targets for enemies.

A look at those locations reveal outlines of known U.S. military bases and other unknown and potentially sensitive spots, The Washington Post noted. Audricia Harris. "Furthermore, operational security requirements provide further guidance for military personnel supporting operations around the world". He pinpointed the location of his former base in Afghanistan using the map.

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