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Viral fitness tracker heat map could reveal key military secrets

Viral fitness tracker heat map could reveal key military secrets

Strava, the app for tracking physical activities such as running, swimming and cycling, can reveal sensitive military data as well. In most cases, the apps or devices keep tabs on basic health information such as steps taken, heart rate, or sleep.

The global heatmap, which was published in November 2017, tracked 1 billion activities from September 2017, according to Strava.

Though the heatmap was posted a few months ago, it was only made public over the weekend after Nathan Ruser, an Australian student studying worldwide security and the Middle East, discovered it.

The security implication of the Global Heat Map, which was uploaded in November 2017, was publicized by 20-year-old Australian worldwide security student and Institute for United Conflict Analysts founding member Nathan Ruser.

Both the USA military and Strava say they are addressing the problem.

What went unnoticed until the last weekend was the fact that the app might have been used by the people working in the United States army, with their jogging routes getting uploaded to Strava's servers. The heatmaps let users find new exercise routes or discover the most popular in new locations.

"Our global heatmap represents an aggregated and anonymized view of over a billion activities uploaded to our platform", the statement read.

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Strava has urged it's users to check privacy settings and reaffirmed that data shared on heatmap is only that which has been made publicly available by users.

Users can ask themselves, do I really want to share my jogging route with the entire Internet?

To be clear, Google maps and public satellite images have previously showed the presence of military installations to the world, tech news outlet The Verge reported.

According to Strava, "athletes with the Metro/heatmap opt-out privacy setting have all data excluded" from the mapping project. "You can establish a pattern of life", he said.

"This is literally what 10,000 innocent individual screw-ups look like", he said.

Users who record their exercise data on Strava have the option of making their movements public or private.

According to The Washington Post, eagle-eyed observers have identified activity locating a suspected Central Intelligence Agency base in Somalia, a Patriot missile defense system site in Yemen and USA special operations bases in the Sahel region of Africa. "Recent data releases emphasize the need for situational awareness when members of the military share personal information". In countries like Niger, the heatmap highlights the activity of U.S. soldiers on military bases keeping fit.

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