Fitness device data show military sites

Icon of Strava app. Courtesy Strava

The Hill had also reached out to the USA military for comment.

Sensitive information about the location and staffing of military bases and spy outposts around the world has been revealed by a fitness tracking company.

Fellow security analyst Tobias Schneider also took to Twitter to share apparent military activity highlighted by the heat maps, writing: "A lot of people are going to have to sit thru (sic) lectures come Monday morning".

The US military is examining the heatmap, a spokesman said.

To Strava's credit, the company does have a number of options for users if they don't want their outdoor exercises tracked, even anonymously.

Strava devices and apps allow users to turn off the data transmission service.

Analysts fear the map could give away the locations of military bases.

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The latest version of the map was released in November 2017, but the implications for service personnel were only raised over the weekend.

The Global Heat Map was posted online in November 2017, but the information it contains was only publicized on Saturday after a 20-year-old Australian student stumbled across it. Nathan Ruser, who is studying worldwide security and the Middle East, found out about the map's existence from a mapping blog and was inspired to look more closely, he said, after a throwaway comment by his father, who observed that the map offered a snapshot of "where rich white people are" in the world.

"I just looked at it and thought, 'oh hell, this should not be here - this is not good, '" he told the BBC.

Security analysts around the world were concerned the data could reveal patrol and supply routes, and the locations of secret bases and troop movements.

Furthermore, concerns about Strava's heatmap are mainly centred around the fact that it displays the level of activity - shown as more intense light - and the movement of personnel inside the walls. It also includes known Russian, Chinese and United Kingdom bases, but it would appear that it's more widely used by USA personnel. Ruser said, prompting him to zoom into Syria. 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.

The American satellite navigation service Strava a year ago launched its Global Heat Map, a visualisation of user data showing the location of its 27 million subscribers including owners of Fitbit, Jawbone and Vitofit fitness monitors.

In a statement, Strava said that the data it used to create the map had been anonymised, and "excludes activities that have been marked as private and user-defined privacy zones". After the reports, Strava on Sunday urged its users to review the app's privacy settings.

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