All wireless trackers used by U.S. military personnel are being evaluated after it was discovered that fitness trackers used by many troops and civilians can be easily hacked and used to expose the identities of service members working in sensitive and hazardous locations.
The review came after reports in The Washington Post and elsewhere that a global heat map posted online by the fitness-tracking company Strava reveals the outlines of U.S. military bases in some of the most dangerous locations in the world – along with the routes taken by supply convoys and patrols.
In the latest discoveries on Monday, experts and Internet sleuths found further ways of using the publicly available Strava data to identify individual users of the tracking service by name, along with the jogging routes they use in war zones such as Iraq and Afghanistan.
On one of the Strava sites, it is possible to click on a frequently used jogging route and see who runs the route and at what times. One Strava user demonstrated how to use the map and Google to identify by name a U.S. Army major and his running route at a base in Afghanistan.
On another Internet site, it is possible to establish the names and home towns of individuals who have signed up for a social sharing network where runners post their routes and speeds. One popular route on a base in Iraq has been nicknamed “Base Perimeter” by the U.S. runners who regularly use it. Another outside the big U.S. base in Kandahar, Afghanistan, is called “Sniper Alley.”
The U.S. military said in an emailed response to questions from The Post on Monday that new technologies pose challenges that are constantly being reviewed.
“The rapid development of new and innovative information technologies enhances the quality of our lives but also poses potential challenges to operational security and force protection. We constantly refine policies and procedures to address such challenges,” said the Central Command press office.
While there is no clear regulatory or legal framework for companies such as Strava that collect information on individuals using newly available technologies, it is also easy to see where the enemies of the US military could easily hack into the database and plan terrorist activities targeting U.S. servicemembers.
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