Strava inadvertently unveils location of secret military bases

A fitness tracking app popular with members of the military could be a security risk from tracking data released by the company that highlights bases, including clandestine bases in the Middle East.

Strava is a "social networking" website & app aimed at athletes, and allows users to upload data from devices such as Fitbits.

As military personnel on the bases use Strava to log their cycling and running activities, details of the military bases are revealed - including how much activity there is within them.

Twenty-year-old university student Nathan Ruser stumbled across the map on a blog and was inspired to look more closely after his dad reportedly offered that the map gave a snapshot of "where rich white people are" in the world.

A heat map published on the Internet by fitness tracking company Strava may have been inadvertently giving away sensitive secrets.

Naturally, that can be interpreted as shifting the responsibility to users who don't fully understand just where their data is going once they finish their activity, though there are still questions about the steps taken to ensure the safety of military personnel and the security of bases.

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". Unlike many online publications, we don't have a paywall or run banner advertising, because we want to keep our journalism open, without influence or the need to chase traffic. However, some top secret military bases may have been compromised when the map exposed movement at military bases.

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He also pointed on Twitter that it was possible to locate jogging routes for soldiers, who had the app on for tracking during these activities, which is unsafe.

Air Force Colonel John Thomas, a spokesman for US Central Command, said the US military is looking into the implications of the map. This is bad news for security, as it establishes reliable "pattern of life" information that would otherwise be unavailable to the rest of the world.

"It was very clear to see what you knew were USA bases lighting up so much clearer than any of the rest of the country", Ruser told ABC News on Monday.

One Twitter user said he had located a Patriot missile system site in Yemen.

Though all these bases are well known, Strava data is also capable of revealing sensitive information that the government might not be comfortable with, such as the possible location of living quarters and the most frequently trafficked paths.

Unfortunately, by celebrating this fact, they unwittingly shared the exercise patterns and specific routes chosen by USA military personnel in states, including Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

  • Desiree Holland