Toward the end of last year Strava released a data visualisation that contained all the activity tracked by its applications in one beautiful map.
Lines of gold and red outline the various roads and routes that folks using the app frequent. Worryingly that also includes secret military bases.
At the weekend founding member of the Institute for United Conflict Analysts revealed just how much data shouldn’t have made it on to the Strava map.
“It looks very pretty,” Russer said of the data in a tweet, “but not amazing for Op-Sec [operational security]. US Bases are clearly identifiable and mappable.”
Using the data Russer pointed out military bases in a number of conflict zones where US military are based. In a city like New York it’s tricky to pin-point exact locations given the amount of Strava users but in an area such as Afghanistan where the only folks that are likely to use fitness trackers are military staff areas such as military bases light up like a Christmas tree.
Since this revelation Russer has been retweeting a number of discoveries that are being made by others. Perhaps the most chilling we’ve spotted is the allegation that the data has revealed a CIA black site in Djibouti.
Cross-referencing @mjranum's recent post about using Google Maps to identify CIA "Black" sites in Djibouti, with the #Strava heat-map, appears to offer corroboration https://t.co/PfXDqRIvSS pic.twitter.com/GlxWOoKWcj
— Alec Muffett (@AlecMuffett) January 28, 2018
Strava has yet to comment on these revelations but speaking frankly this has more to do with user behaviour than Strava tracking data.
Strava simply published the data that users gave it permission to track and it’s up to users to make sure that they aren’t sharing sensitive information.
Military staff – especially those in secret bases – should really know better than to turn their fitness tracker on when they go for a jog.
There is a bit of blame on Strava here for publishing the information without thinking about the implications and repercussions it may have but once again, this data would not be there if it weren’t for runners tracking this sensitive data.
Whoever is to blame we’re sure there will be some tough conversations being had in military bases this morning. Bases you could probably spot thanks to Strava.