Skip to Content
Humans and technology

Fitness app data is revealing military bases to enemy fighters

January 29, 2018

Strava, the company behind the popular activity-tracking app, published a huge cache of aggregated user data last year—and it’s now been shown to reveal some fairly sensitive defense secrets.

The news: The Guardian reports that researchers have found locations of military bases in places like Afghanistan and Syria lurking in Strava’s public data dump. (Pictured above is data from an American base in Helmand province.) It suggests that soldiers—mainly from the US and allied Western countries—have been making their own workout data public.

Why it matters: In such locations, almost all Strava users will be military staff. That means the exercise activity can be assumed to be entirely a result of foreign forces, and the resulting data is reportedly detailed enough for enemies to map the bases.

What next: The US-led coalition against the Islamic State tells the Washington Post ($) that it is “in the process of implementing refined guidance on privacy settings for wireless technologies and applications.” Strava suggests that military personnel opt out of sharing data.

Deep Dive

Humans and technology

VR is as good as psychedelics at helping people reach transcendence

On key metrics, a VR experience elicited a response indistinguishable from subjects who took medium doses of LSD or magic mushrooms.

The 1,000 Chinese SpaceX engineers who never existed

LinkedIn users are being scammed of millions of dollars by fake connections posing as graduates of prestigious universities and employees at top tech companies.

Social media is polluting society. Moderation alone won’t fix the problem

Companies already have the systems in place that are needed to evaluate their deeper impacts on the social fabric.

The fight for “Instagram face”

Meta banned filters that “encourage plastic surgery,” but a massive demand for beauty augmentation on social media is complicating matters.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.