Fitness app Strava exposes the location of military bases


Strava comes out to be an app which can expose sensitive activity at military bases

Strava is a widespread fitness app which is also known as the social network for amateur athletes, used for tracing exercise routines like jogging, riding and swimming. But recently some security concerns have been raised after it reflected the routes followed in the military bases around the world, during exercise routines by the military personnel. Strava basically published a “heatmap” which shows the paths followed by the person during his exercise activities.

Nathan Ruser- an Australian student raised the security concern related to Strava

These concerns were first of all raised by a 20-year-old Australian University student Nathan Ruser. He is studying international security and works at the Indian Institute for United Conflict Analysts. While going through some of the cartography blogs, he came across the map which was clearly highlighting the general routes followed by the soldiers in their camps. The information of their location was shared publicly by numerous of defense personnel who specify regular routes of jogging and other confidential activities.

Strava uses mobile phone’s GPS for tracking location and activities

The app can be utilized by activating GPS on the mobile phone which finds out the location and tracks user’s activity. In this app, the users can upload their workout logs online, which enable them to check their performances and compare them with others. The app has huge base of users around 27 million all over the world which includes soldiers too. If it gets under consideration of anyone who wants to breach the security, then these fragments of evidences, can be summed up which could pose a substantial risk to the security. It can be used by predictors to trail down military bases, their soldier’s routines and conceivable undisclosed activity.

To avoid these security perils, soldiers who use strava are advised by the military experts to turn off the devices

The heatmaps which were published by Strava in November 2017 with a newer version were including US military bases which were clearly recognizable and mappable. The basic purpose of designing maps was to show the most common running and cycling routes used across the world. Even though the military camps can be viewed by satellite images and its building outlines can be configured, still the heatmap can disclose which of the routes are most commonly used, or taken by soldiers. It can be risky if anytime a solider is using this app as normal people do. In any case, the same person forgets to turn off the app could lead to leakage of sensitive information during patrolling as well. To avoid these security perils, soldiers who use strava are advised by the military experts to turn off the devices. On the other hand, it has been stated that this app eliminates actions that have been marked as private and who come under user-defined concealment zones. They emphasized on understanding of settings by the users so as to give them control over what they share.

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