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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 11 December 2018

Strava app discloses military bases across the world in a security slip up

Strava’s Global Heat Map is being used by analysts to track down military bases, soldiers’ exercise routines and possible secret activity

Icon of Strava app. Courtesy: Strava
Icon of Strava app. Courtesy: Strava

A new feature on a popular exercise app used by military personnel has uncovered the locations of military bases and patrol routes across the world in what appears to be a huge security oversight.

The US-based sports app Strava announced last year that it was launching a new version of its Global Heat Map, which would be six times more intricate than the original model unveiled in 2015.

At the time, the company said the map was made up of information showing more than 1 billion activities.

While the interactive map was designed to show the most popular running and cycling routes across the world, it is being used by analysts to track down military bases, soldiers’ exercise routines and possible secret activity.

Military experts have warned the easy-to-use feature poses a security risk to soldiers operating covertly.

Already, social media users have been posting apparent locations of military bases to Twitter, exposing covert operations in the South China Sea and in Mali.

One map appeared to show China had deployed soldiers in one of the disputed Paracel Islands in the South China Sea.

While another map posted by a risk consultancy group seemed to reveal France’s counter-terror forces operating in the Kidal Region in Mali.

Strava was unavailable for comment when contacted by The National.

Military experts have warned users at security bases to turn off their devices to avoid detection.

A Strava statement provided to The National said "Our global heat map represents an aggregated and anonymized view of over a billion activities uploaded to our platform. It excludes activities that have been marked as private and user-defined privacy zones. We are committed to helping people better understand our settings to give them control over what they share."

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