Strava, the popular fitness tracking app, has been in the news recently thanks to the ‘heatmap’ of its users runs. As you can see from the attached image, more popular runs are more brightly coloured and therefore, it is claimed that this heatmap can reveal information on the structure of military bases around the world. Indeed, looking at the heatmap, I can spot the outline of a military base near me.
For the most part, this probably isn’t a major problem. Nevertheless, the map highlights millions of runs and a number of these military bases are in areas where Strava is not used by many members of the public. In these areas, the map clearly highlights the runs of military personnel and potentially the outline of the base they are stationed in, along with the roads that they are running along.
You might not think that this is worrisome for the average user of Strava but if your maps are public, take a minute to think about what this information may tell a potential criminal about you. Chances are, you start your run from your house (like I do), you might even finish your run at your house (I can’t run that far!). Your map will give an indication of the routes that you typically take for your runs and how long you are out for.
A quick search on Facebook reveals that many people are sharing their runs online for others to comment on. Like any other Social Media service, it is important that you check and understand the privacy settings that are on your accounts. Simple changes can help to protect your privacy and keep valuable information out of the hands of people looking to exploit the information that we unwittingly leak.
If you are curious to know more or have any questions about cyber security please email [email protected].
Written on 31 January 2018