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

10 Breakthrough Technologies 2023

Every year, we pick the 10 technologies that matter the most right now. We look for advances that will have a big impact on our lives and break down why they matter.

People are already using ChatGPT to create workout plans

Fitness advice from OpenAI’s large language model is impressively presented—but don’t take it too seriously.

I just watched Biggie Smalls perform ‘live’ in the metaverse

An avatar of the singer, who died in 1997, performed with live rappers on Meta’s Horizon Worlds.

Why my bittersweet relationship with Shein had to end

Reflecting on my desire for Chinese-style e-commerce platforms.

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.