Strava Endangering the Military Accidentally

Corvallis, Oregon on the Strava Global Heat Map

Corvallis, Oregon on the Strava Global Heat Map

It was once outlandish to think that robots would learn from humans, and then take over the world. Seems pretty silly, right? 

As time goes by, we see advancements in technology. Many of them are for the good of the country, whether it is advancing medical equipment, vehicles that don't emit carbon, and the list goes on and on.

We do, however, see that technology to a certain extent, can actually put human lives at risk.

The fitness company Strava, who dubbed their own motto "The Social Network for Athletes," recently updated their website to reveal a new, updated Global Heat Map, showing where people around the world are exuding the highest heart rates during exercise or  the highest rates of speed. I imagine Strava was imagining this map being a motivational tool for people to get out and exercise, but what we've seen with their recent publication is actually horrifying. 

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You can just take a look at Interstate-5 and see how "busy" it is. That's not frightening. You know what is? That you can look at a top-secret United States military base in Syria and see exactly where the soldiers are running due to the fact that they left their fitness apps open. This also reveals some odd amounts of traffic, whether it be foot or vehicular, in places like Royal Air Force Base Mount Pleasant (pictured left). Not only can you see the main roads entering and exiting the compound, you can also see some of the smaller, more rural roads. For people fighting against America, whether it be a foreign power like North Korea, or a terrorist organization, like ISIS, this information can be vey useful.

We don't just see this in our home country. We can see our military bases from around the world. Take for example the picture below. You can clearly see some of the main FOBs (Forward Operating Bases) in Afghanistan.


You can't tell me that it isn't creepy what you can see. It's like when consumers first started realizing that you could actually see people committing crimes on Google Earth. It's technology catching up and passing the humans. 

As a fan of thriller novels, this is the stuff that can make nightmares that you read in a thriller novel come true. This map makes military bases come alive and obviously identifiable. 

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It's hard to blame Strava for publishing this, as it is a pretty amazing map to view, but with many of technology's bugs, the fact that Strava didn't have to clear this with the United States Armed Forces is staggering. When some in information security finds a bug in a system, the idea is to follow proper protocol and alert the company's security team to give them time to patch the issue before taking it public, but Strava appeared to just ignore all warning lights. It is nearly impossible to believe that NO ONE at that company thought about the ramifications of publishing something that is just gathering massive amounts of data and publishing it. Granted, when you download their app, you basically Accept their Terms & Conditions, which all them to collect your locational data, but it is still surprising that they took so much of this public.

We can even see the issues in the United Kingdom, more specifically, Her Majesty's Naval Base, or HMNB Clyde, is home to the UK's nuclear arsenal. It would be very disconcerting to know exactly where employees are moving at all times. 

I think the bigger question that should be asked is why are employees allowed to use their cellphones in the same building as nuclear weapons? It would be incredibly ironic for a nuclear weapon to go off because a Samsung Galaxy explodes in someone's pocket.

HMNB Clyde, UK

HMNB Clyde, UK

I wish I knew what the best response to this would be. It's hard to blame Strava, although their publishing is endangering lives, but it truly is the user's fault for using their application on military bases. Hopefully we will see a crackdown on the use of their app in sensitive areas, although it may already be too late.