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  Life   Health  30 Jan 2018  Fitness apps reveal Army bases, location of soldiers

Fitness apps reveal Army bases, location of soldiers

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Published : Jan 30, 2018, 7:01 am IST
Updated : Jan 30, 2018, 7:01 am IST

Following the revelation, militaries around the world are contemplating bans on fitness trackers to prevent future breaches.

The “global heatmaps” show, in aggregate form, every public activity uploaded to the app over its history. (Photo: AFP)
 The “global heatmaps” show, in aggregate form, every public activity uploaded to the app over its history. (Photo: AFP)

Washington: Security concerns have been raised after a fitness-tracking firm showed, on fitness devices such as Fitbit and Jawbone, the exercise routes of personnel in military bases around the world.

San Francisco-based online fitness tracker Strava, which has 27 million users around the world, provides an app that uses a mobile phone’s GPS to track a subscriber’s exercise activity. It collects this data and publishes what it calls “Global Heatmaps”, showing the paths its users log as they run or cycle, enabling people to check their own performances and compare them with others.

The “global heatmaps” show, in aggregate form, every public activity uploaded to the app over its history. In major cities, it lights up popular running routes, but in less trafficked locales it highlights areas with an unusually high concentration of connected, exercise-focused individuals — such .

Nathan Ruser, a member of the Institute for United Conflict Analysts,  that it’s easy to look at the map and cross-reference it with the locations of known military installations, or pick out potential installations in combat zones based on the data from users using the app. He posted several screenshots that he theorized were ,  and locations of .

Following the revelation, militaries around the world are contemplating bans on fitness trackers to prevent future breaches.

As well as the location of military bases, the identities of individual service members can also be uncovered, if they are using the service with the default privacy settings.

Strava has defended its publication of heatmaps that accidentally reveal sensitive military positions, arguing that the information was already made public by the users who uploaded it.

In a statement, Strava said: “Our global heatmap represents an aggregated and anonymised view of over a billion activities uploaded to our platform. It excludes activities that have been marked as private and user-defined privacy zones.”

Tags: fitness apps, soldiers