A popular fitness app that uses the GPS on your phone to track your jogging routes may have inadvertently revealed the location of secret U.S. military bases around the world. According to The Daily Beast, GPS-tracking company Strava created a “social-networking app for athletes" that allows users to track their daily jogs and compare it with other people around the world.
The app uploads the GPS data of jogging routes from millions of users to Strava. The company took that data, over 13 trillion GPS points, and used it to create a publically accessible "heat-map" of running activity all around the globe. The map does not update in real-time and was only recently updated with new data.
The heat map is now causing a nightmare for Strava as internet sleuths have used it to identify top secret military bases and government facilities. It started when a 20-year-old student from Australia, named Nathan Ruser, discovered the GPS map on a blog and decided to take a more in-depth look at the data.
What he noticed was random pockets of activity in war zones, such as Syria and Afghanistan. According to the Washington Post, many of those areas matched up to known military bases. The areas that did not match-up could be hidden bases or other secret facilities.
The other danger is that many soldiers wear fitness tracking devices all day to track their total steps. Along with jogging routes, the map could also show patrol routes or supply lines, giving enemy forces intel needed to ambush troops.
Strava gave users instructions to adjust their privacy settings and explained how to prevent the app from sharing their location data.
Military officials have said they are looking into the issue and will refine their security procedures for the use of fitness trackers.