Pentagon reviewing military use of exercise trackers

Allan Goodman
January 30, 2018

It resurfaced over the weekend after it was discovered the map could not only reveal the most popular jogging paths in New York City, but the location of USA service members overseas who often operate in precarious security environments. It aggregates more than 1 billion activities on its heatmap, visualizing them in bright lines, depending on the popularity of the route.

Australian student Nathan Ruser, who revealed the issue on Saturday, said the map "looks very pretty, but not unbelievable for Op-Sec [Operational Security]".

Ruser then went on to investigate other American structures around the world, including bases, airstrips and patrol routes, as well as those used by Russian and Turkish forces. The map, he tweeted, is "excellent for locating military bases".

Millions of users track their location data with Strava while exercising, often using a fitness tracker worn on the wrist or a smartphone to automatically upload their location as they jog or cycle.

United States soldiers patrol near Kandahar Airfield on June 3, 2014.

The Department of Defense released a report in July 2017 that identifies security risks with associated devices that interact with the physical environment and contain identifying information.

The Strava map has been available online in a blogpost since November 2017, but it was only at the weekend that Nathan Ruser was inspired to look at it, after his dad pointed it out, says the Washington Post.

"I wondered, does it show USA soldiers?"

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The Pentagon "recommends limiting public profiles on the internet, including personal social media accounts", she said. Audricia Harris in a statement to ABC News.

"DoD takes matters like these very seriously and is reviewing the situation to determine if any additional training or guidance is required, and if any additional policy must be developed to ensure the continued safety of DoD personnel at home and overseas", a Department of Defense spokesperson said in a statement emailed to Fox News.

"We take the safety of our community seriously and are committed to working with military and government officials to address sensitive areas that might appear", Strava added.

Further, although user identity is not public information, Strava Labs, the maker of the app, has access to this data and therefore so potentially do hackers, points out the Daily Beast.

Here's where Strava users workout across the world.

The company, which uses the slogan "Connecting the world's athletes", records running, cycling, and swimming activity uploaded from cell phones and Global Positioning System devices.

The service does offer a private mode which doesn't share information outside of the app.

Fitness tracking company Strava has responded to criticism after the positioning of active military personnel was revealed by a global heatmap.

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