“Slow 10k around the base”

Written by:
Lucie Sadler
Date Posted:
7 February 2018

Change your Strava settings if you don’t want people to find out where you live.

I’m sure that we’ve all got friends on social media that post tedious Strava updates. Do we really need to know that you got up at 5am on a Sunday and cycled up Box Hill twice? No.

So, now Strava and some military people are in hot water after a little flaw with the Strava app was discovered. It started when Strava published a heat map of user’s activity in Nov 2017, to show the popularity and global reach of the running and cycling tracking app.

It didn’t take long for some clever people to find out how many Strava users were in the military or national security groups. It all came down to the pesky ‘off-by-default’ privacy settings on the app.

It turns out that the app had the potential to reveal where users lived and worked, just by innocently having an evening run and capturing it on Strava. Users turn on the tracking app when they start their run, and it tracks your distance and pace using GPS. Turning off data sharing on the app is an option and is on by default on the app.

Social shares
For the past few weeks it has quickly become an internet sensation to locate military bases and share the findings on social media. Not the best for any ‘secret’ or secure operations in progress, eh?

Strava actually haven’t revealed much more than what is already visible on Google Earth in terms of military locations. But it’s pretty worrying that the app reveals user’s personal data and regular movements though. Especially if there’s an influx of people suddenly running a similar route multiple times…

Conveniently, the app can also track troop movements if new Strava users pop up around a military base, so that’s good.

‘Privacy’ zones
Strava’s heat map aimed to provide “the largest, richest, and most beautiful data set of its kind. It is a visualization of Strava’s global network of athlete’s.”

The heat map included public data from the app and excluded any data that the user requested to be private. Only you’d have to know that it wasn’t private by default in the first place. With Strava you can create multiple privacy zones with a radius of up to 1km, and when you enter said privacy zones, your digital tracks disappear.

Change your settings if you don’t want people to find out where you live, ok.

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