Most Americans walk at least 75,000 miles by the time they reach 50 years old. Nowadays, the majority of people — especially younger people — have high tech smart watches and fitness trackers that keep track of all of their steps. Though this technology is great and convenient for the majority of U.S. citizens, the military is skeptical about accepting these devices.
According to Fortune, Strava, a fitness-tracking organization, published a heat map of its global user activity last year. This was a cool feature for the majority of fitness app users, but the data representation actually caused a U.S. security issue.
Nathan Ruser, a 20-year-old Australian conflict analyst and student noticed recently that the heat map depicts activity on U.S. military bases around the world. Because of the popularity of these fitness tracking wearables, many U.S. soldiers use them on military bases and the like.
Ruser released his findings on Twitter, where government officials quickly took notice. Not only does the heat mapping show exact destinations of global users, it can even be altered to find exact time of use and other tactical information that could put military personnel in jeopardy. The locations published in Strava’s heat map could potentially be used to plan attacks on U.S. military bases in war torn countries around the world.
“We take these matters seriously and we are reviewing the situation to determine if any additional training or guidance is required,” said Pentagon spokesman Col. Rob Manning.
Strava defines itself as the “social network for athletes.” The company said that its app allows users to turn off location tracking, but ultimately that decision rests in each individual user’s hands. And as the world saw in Strava’s heat map, it’s difficult to attain true privacy in any aspect of life
“Our global heatmap represents an aggregated and anonymized view of over a billion activities uploaded to our platform,” said a spokesperson from Strava. “It excludes activities that have been marked as private and user-defined privacy zones. We are committed to helping people better understand our settings to give them control over what they share.”
“This is literally what 10,000 innocent individual screw-ups look like,” added Scott Lafoy, an open-source imagery analyst.