Fitness App Strava Published 'Heat Map' Details About Secret Military Bases

Image Strava

Image Strava

A 20-year-old worldwide security and Middle East expert finally took a closer look at the map this weekend after his father noted it basically shows "where rich white people are", the Washington Post reports.

He believed there would be some Australian soldiers using the app while training in Australia, but doubted anyone deployed overseas would be using it.

It is also possible that workers from charities and other NGOs might feature on the conflict zone maps.

According to The Washington Post, eagle-eyed observers have identified activity locating a suspected Central Intelligence Agency base in Somalia, a Patriot missile defense system site in Yemen, and U.S. special operations bases in the Sahel region of Africa.

Ruser told the newspaper that Strava apps and devices leave the user with the responsibility to turn off the data transmission service, which he described something that seems like "a big oversight". Its heatmap charts information collected between 2015 and September 2017.

While security analysts often use satellite imagery to study military installations, Mr Ruser said the Strava data added an additional, possibly unsafe layer of information.

Strava demonstrated that the new heatmap was detailed enough to see kiteboarding in Mexico, to track the route of the Camino de Santiago across northern Spain and to see the sea route of the Ironman triathalon in Kona, Hawaii.

It also shows the turns patrols take when moving through towns in Syria: "You can see the main supply highway for United States forces in Syria, and I just remember thinking 'f***, that's not good", Mr Ruser said. "You can see a pattern of life".


"Our global heat map represents an aggregated and anonymized view of over a billion activities uploaded to our platform", the company said.

The information leak is not due to a hacking attack, but rather through the Strava's own Global Heat Map, which displays the location of activities of its millions of users over a more than two-year period. "The unique pentagonal pattern of Burning Man's pop-up city is forever etched into the Heatmap, thanks to all the runners and cyclists who have used Strava to explore it", the company wrote.

Mr Ruser doesn't think the situation is all Strava's fault.

Strava data indicates that the app is popular at the headquarters of Taiwan's missile command, according to the Daily Beast.

"If you ask me, I don't expect the map will be online for that much longer".

Australia's secret Pine Gap surveillance installation was also marked clear as day on the map as staff moved between buildings and in and out of the base.

Comment was being sought from Defence.

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