Strava fitness app divulges heatmap of secretive British SAS base

Posted January 30, 2018

While the locations of military bases are generally known, there are concerns about the level of activity it reveals about personnel inside and around the bases. In most cases, the apps or devices keep tabs on basic health information such as steps taken, heart rate, or sleep.

The heat map shows more than three trillion individual Global Positioning System data points and one billion activities ever uploaded to Strava.

Ruser, who is studying worldwide security and Middle Eastern studies at Australian National University, said he noticed the fitness activity "pretty much the second I scrolled over Syria".

Ruser said on Twitter: "If soldiers use the app like normal people do, by turning it on tracking when they go to do exercise, it could be especially risky".

From the site, it's possible to identify individuals' running routes, and around military bases users had posted profile photos of themselves wearing military uniforms.

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In large cities and well-known locations, the highlighted routes are hardly surprising, with dense urban areas lit up brightly compared to unpopulated areas or places without many app users.

In a statement, Strava said that the information in the heat map is aggregated and anonymized.

"Whether you are concerned about someone knowing where you are, where you ran or where you live, we've got the tools to help you take control", the company said.

The firm said the map was created using one billion recorded activities through September 2017 across 3 trillion latitude and longitude points.

The data could provide information to someone who wants to attack or ambush troops, the Washington Post reported. This particular track looks like it logs a regular jogging route. Worryingly that also includes secret military bases.

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Speaking to the Washington Post, Air Force Colonel John Thomas said the USA is now analysing the threats posed by publication of the map. "I shouldn't be able to establish any pattern of life info from this far away", Ruser tweeted.

Journalist Andrew Rawnsley noticed a lot of jogging activity on the beach near a suspected Central Intelligence Agency base in Mogadishu.

The company argues that the information had already been made public by users who chose to share their location data.

But a 20-year-old Australian student has called into question some of the data shared from countries including Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Yemen.

USA bases in Syria also show up on the map, according to defense analyst Tobias Schneider, as does the Hmeimim airbase, which is being used by Russian forces in the country.

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