Fitness tracking app's map reveals movement patterns on remote military bases

Icon of Strava app. Courtesy Strava

Icon of Strava app. Courtesy Strava

Many military bases are already profiled on services such as Google Maps, although they can request removal, but the Strava map highlights the level of activity at bases, and regular routes undertaken by personnel.

Strava acts as social media network for athletes with a community of millions of runners, cyclists and triathletes, the company said on its website.

A fitness tracking app that maps people's exercise habits could pose security risks for security forces around the world.

Ruser said he has not been contacted by Strava or military officials.

And while the locations of some of these bases are well known in war zones such as Syria and Iraq, many are also unknown. Many people on social media and other online forums are working on combining rumors, known information, and the Strata activity map to locate possible Central Intelligence Agency facilities and the like, according to the newspaper. The company says activities which are marked as private are not part of the global heat map.

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Scott Lafoy, an open-source imagery analyst, told CNN it's too early to truly assess how useful the data is. The heat map also shows 3 trillion latitude and longitude points and includes around 10TB of raw input data, according to the company's original post. Strava is being actively being used by military personnel in confidential areas allowing data about top-secret military locations to be discovered.

The app, which maps people's exercise habits via GPS and enables them to share their running routes, published an updated version of its global heatmap back in November.

The revelation has caused alarm for the Australian military, who said devices record or transmit should be left at home when soldiers are deployed overseas. It's one thing to try to discern any viable information from a heat map of the United States or Europe, and quite a different thing to discover potential bases in war zones.

Ruser said: "If you ask me, I don't expect the map will be online for that much longer".

In a statement, Strava said: "Our global heatmap represents an aggregated and anonymised view of over a billion activities uploaded to our platform". "[The map] had that incredible amount of data that is quite sensitive". "We are committed to helping people better understand our settings to give them control over what they share", Strava told the Washington Post in a statement. "I expected it to languish in wonk circles and open source circles until the USA government quietly fixed the problem, but instead it seems to have blown up a lot more than I would have thought".

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