Jump to content


Photo

Fitness Tracker Data 'reveal Locations Of Military Bases And Personnel'

Fitbit tracking devices Jawbone Vitofit Global Heat Map

  • Please log in to reply
20 replies to this topic

#1 forrest747

forrest747

    Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 25 posts

Posted 28 January 2018 - 2355 PM

https://www.yahoo.co...-230046300.html

(copied from above link.  This info has been available since last November.  The easy fix is to turn them off.)

 

A global map showing the distribution of people using personal fitness devices risks giving away troop movements and secret military facilities around the world, according to defence analysts who have already used it to pinpoint bases in Afghanistan and the Middle East.

 

The American satellite navigation service Strava last year launched its Global Heat Map, a visualisation of user data showing the location of its 27 million subscribers including owners of Fitbit, Jawbone and Vitofit fitness monitors.  Swaths of the United States and Europe show up as a blaze of colour, indicating the millions of users.

 

However, the map goes dark across war zones – such as Syria and Iraq – except for tiny pinpricks of light apparently showing US military personnel or international troops wearing the devices. The revelation has set off a hunt for previously unknown black sites around the world.

A spokesman for US Central Command, told The Washington Post the American military was looking into the implications of the map.

 

It was published in November last year and it was only this week that a student of international security and the Middle East realised the ramifications for operational security.  Nathan Ruser posted on Twitter: “It looks very pretty, but not amazing for Op-Sec. US Bases are clearly identifiable and mappable.”  He uses the light trails to identify forward operating bases in Afghanistan, what he says is the trail of a Turkish patrol in Syria and a jogging route, which could be used to map the daily pattern of life of US armed forces for use by hostile forces.

 

“If soldiers use the app like normal people do, by turning it on tracking when they go to do exercise, it could be especially dangerous,” he writes.  The map shows every single activity uploaded to Strava, making more than three trillion individual GPS data points, according to the company.

 

Ben Taub, of the The New Yorker, identified what he said was a secret air field.  “There's a revealing pattern, at least in the Sahel,” he wrote on Twitter. “If you find a heavily-used jogging route that's not near a city, expect to find a remote airstrip nearby.”  Others identified bases, or confirmed the locations of known facilities.  Nick Waters, a former British infantry officer, said he recognised what appeared to be a base in Afghanistan and described the map as a failure of Opsec and Persec – personal security.


Edited by forrest747, 28 January 2018 - 2358 PM.

  • 0

#2 rmgill

rmgill

    Strap-hanger

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 24,177 posts

Posted 29 January 2018 - 0241 AM

If soldiers are out jogging with or without fitbits that have GPS tracking, it's likely the locals know that the soldiers are there, secrets or not. Do locals in Afghanistan "jog"? 

As to the trackers, why does someone in any security field wear one that does ANY tracking? What's wrong with a simple pedometer to track distance?Why even share that? 


  • 0

#3 Roman Alymov

Roman Alymov

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 18,543 posts

Posted 29 January 2018 - 0354 AM

If soldiers are out jogging with or without fitbits that have GPS tracking, it's likely the locals know that the soldiers are there, secrets or not. Do locals in Afghanistan "jog"? 

As to the trackers, why does someone in any security field wear one that does ANY tracking? What's wrong with a simple pedometer to track distance?Why even share that? 

As far as I understand data are collected not only from special tracking gadgets, but also from cellphones applications (and, as we know from previous disclosures, there are ways to install and run this applications without user knowledge). So every person with smartphone is potentially tracked.
Russian army way of addressing the problem
“The board for unhallowed telephones”
1396954371_1785157739_2.jpg
“Telephones not handed over when entering (some location)”
original.jpg

Navy
4657485_6b67c5db24f60ae5c2b332cba73fa49a


  • 0

#4 Der Zeitgeist

Der Zeitgeist

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 1,327 posts

Posted 29 January 2018 - 0420 AM

Holy shit, this is getting worse and worse. When you log in to Strava, you can search for activity routes on a map, and of course, people are sharing their base perimeters in northern Iraq as routes on the site. You can even see who went on that route segment and compare times:

 

yMCDQUU.jpg


  • 0

#5 Panzermann

Panzermann

    REFORGER '79

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 16,580 posts

Posted 29 January 2018 - 1036 AM

Welcome to the world of big data! Where big corporations live off of unreflected customers, that do not think about what they have in their pockets. Or the resignated ones, that say yes, true, but one cannot without facebook etc. nowadays.

 

 

 

Reminds me of this book I have read like two decades ago. It predicted we would love to carry a bug around that constantly keeps us under surveilance (meaning mobile phones). Yes it goes also into crazyland conspiracy theories, but it has also more reasonable 1984 scenarios described.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holy shit, this is getting worse and worse. When you log in to Strava, you can search for activity routes on a map, and of course, people are sharing their base perimeters in northern Iraq as routes on the site. You can even see who went on that route segment and compare times:

 

yMCDQUU.jpg

 

shouldn't googlemaps and streetview combined give the same information? You cannot really hide a FOB from satellites.


  • 0

#6 Dark_Falcon

Dark_Falcon

    The Stryker's Friend

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 3,274 posts

Posted 29 January 2018 - 1111 AM

 

If soldiers are out jogging with or without fitbits that have GPS tracking, it's likely the locals know that the soldiers are there, secrets or not. Do locals in Afghanistan "jog"? 

As to the trackers, why does someone in any security field wear one that does ANY tracking? What's wrong with a simple pedometer to track distance?Why even share that? 

As far as I understand data are collected not only from special tracking gadgets, but also from cellphones applications (and, as we know from previous disclosures, there are ways to install and run this applications without user knowledge). So every person with smartphone is potentially tracked.
Russian army way of addressing the problem
“The board for unhallowed telephones”
1396954371_1785157739_2.jpg
“Telephones not handed over when entering (some location)”
original.jpg

Navy
4657485_6b67c5db24f60ae5c2b332cba73fa49a

 

 

Those two boards and the punishment drill do seem like appropriate punishments and a clear message sent.  Russia gets +2 (One for the army, one for the navy).


  • 0

#7 WRW

WRW

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 2,799 posts

Posted 29 January 2018 - 1203 PM

If soldiers are out jogging with or without fitbits that have GPS tracking, it's likely the locals know that the soldiers are there, secrets or not. Do locals in Afghanistan "jog"? 

As to the trackers, why does someone in any security field wear one that does ANY tracking? What's wrong with a simple pedometer to track distance?Why even share that? 


  • 0

#8 WRW

WRW

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 2,799 posts

Posted 29 January 2018 - 1205 PM

Actually saw a local doing a jogging attempt once . He was being chased by a policeman on a bicycle who was shooting at him with an AK. I have no idea of the outcome.
  • 0

#9 Der Zeitgeist

Der Zeitgeist

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 1,327 posts

Posted 29 January 2018 - 1214 PM

 

shouldn't googlemaps and streetview combined give the same information? You cannot really hide a FOB from satellites.

 

 

 

Depends on how current the satellite imagery on Google Maps is. In many cases, the Fitness data was much more recent, so there's a lot of installations on this heat-map where Google Maps only shows an empty stretch of sand.


  • 0

#10 Panzermann

Panzermann

    REFORGER '79

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 16,580 posts

Posted 29 January 2018 - 1230 PM

shouldn't googlemaps and streetview combined give the same information? You cannot really hide a FOB from satellites.

 
Depends on how current the satellite imagery on Google Maps is. In many cases, the Fitness data was much more recent, so there's a lot of installations on this heat-map where Google Maps only shows an empty stretch of sand.

 
Good point on the recency (is that even a word?) of the data in the trackers..
 
 
Another point that came ot my mind is, that you can analyze those fitnes data on the internet much easier than running image recognition on satellite photos. So you can automate the process of looking for suspect jogging profiles. Also with the running profiles you can see when and where they are running and e.g. lob a mortar bomb into a jogging group of soldiers at just the right moment. :ninja:   Heck you might even be able to deduce duty rotas to a degree.
 
 
 
 

If soldiers are out jogging with or without fitbits that have GPS tracking, it's likely the locals know that the soldiers are there, secrets or not. Do locals in Afghanistan "jog"?

As to the trackers, why does someone in any security field wear one that does ANY tracking? What's wrong with a simple pedometer to track distance?Why even share that?


Because that is what people do nowadays. because adverts say so. everybody does it. Some use it for motivation and form groups to compare results. And of course everything has to be shared on "social" media.
  • 0

#11 Roman Alymov

Roman Alymov

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 18,543 posts

Posted 29 January 2018 - 1242 PM

 
Another point that came ot my mind is, that you can analyze those fitnes data on the internet much easier than running image recognition on satellite photos. So you can automate the process of looking for suspect jogging profiles. Also with the running profiles you can see when and where they are running and e.g. lob a mortar bomb into a jogging group of soldiers at just the right moment. :ninja:   Heck you might even be able to deduce duty rotas to a degree.
 
 

One of our high school teachers in early 1990th was retired officer, who once told us story from his Afghanistan experience: small group of Soviet officers (including him) were regularly jogging around the base perimeter, thinking it is safe. One day he skipped the run for some reason – and by coincidence other group members were ambused by sniper\snipers and shot at.

Doing something regularly is good in peacetime, but short way to trouble at war – see Soviet snipers experience during WWII hunting German soldiers on regular duties.

 


  • 0

#12 rohala

rohala

    Crew

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 504 posts

Posted 29 January 2018 - 1249 PM

 

 

shouldn't googlemaps and streetview combined give the same information? You cannot really hide a FOB from satellites.

 

 

 

Depends on how current the satellite imagery on Google Maps is. In many cases, the Fitness data was much more recent, so there's a lot of installations on this heat-map where Google Maps only shows an empty stretch of sand.

 

My experience from searching for Greek military camps (in Greece) is that they are of reduced resolution compared to the surrounding area. Similarly Street View stops (sort of...) around camps.


  • 0

#13 Der Zeitgeist

Der Zeitgeist

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 1,327 posts

Posted 29 January 2018 - 1303 PM

A few interesting places in Syria I found:

 

1. The city of Tartus. Obviously a sporting ground where people go running. From other cities in Syria, we know that these places are ususally "dark" on the heat map, so very few local people seem to use the Strava app. Here, it's brightly lit, with almost all of the people running there coming from a particular block of housing units. So if you'd want to catch some Russians sleeping, you know where to place the car bomb.

 

EKAX75e.jpg

 

2. The port of Tartus. Everything is dark, apart from one particular pier where people are going in lengthy circles. Wanna guess where Russia is unloading its supplies?

 

BITsLq1.jpg

 

3. Latakia Airbase. The satellite image is pretty old, but the heat map clearly shows the perimeter patrols around the Russian base there. There's actually newer imagery on Google Maps for this base, where you can see that the "heat" trace directly follows the outline of the road inside the facility.

 

60qlDfn.jpg

 

4. The city of Latakia. Clearly some kind of VIP compound, maybe a consulate or something like that.

 

2LTTBHB.jpg

 

EDIT:

 

Oh, and check out Damascus! Some beautiful palaces they have there, lit up like christmas trees in the Strava map....


Edited by Der Zeitgeist, 29 January 2018 - 1316 PM.

  • 0

#14 Josh

Josh

    Crew

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 14,658 posts

Posted 29 January 2018 - 1355 PM

It baffles me people would use this devices in any kind of military environment. As a civilian I only have a cell phone, and I actually own a pouch lined with silver that blocks its signals just because I don't 100% trust 'airplane mode' when I want it to be dark.
  • 0

#15 rmgill

rmgill

    Strap-hanger

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 24,177 posts

Posted 29 January 2018 - 1402 PM

I am baffled as well. I disable most of the tracking functions and only allow location services when I'm needing the app to actually navigate. The idea of checking in at a given restaurant every time I go there seems like a ripe invitation for someone to burglarize my house (among other things). The fact is, I know a family that had their home burglarized because they made a clear habit of checking in when they went places. 
 


Edited by rmgill, 29 January 2018 - 1402 PM.

  • 0

#16 Burncycle360

Burncycle360

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 3,590 posts

Posted 29 January 2018 - 1428 PM

Hope they're not going on patrol with em... but with a lot of young kids who don't really know how it works I can imagine it's happened a time or two.


  • 0

#17 rmgill

rmgill

    Strap-hanger

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 24,177 posts

Posted 29 January 2018 - 1444 PM

New rule. Just like you might tape LBE fittings so they don't jingle when walking, likewise, you should turn off, or disable, or store any electronic devices that might broadcast or track your position in any sort of insecure mode either actively or passively. 


  • 0

#18 Panzermann

Panzermann

    REFORGER '79

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 16,580 posts

Posted 30 January 2018 - 0657 AM

New rule. Just like you might tape LBE fittings so they don't jingle when walking, likewise, you should turn off, or disable, or store any electronic devices that might broadcast or track your position in any sort of insecure mode either actively or passively.


Very good comparison, that all the electroic gizmos are like clanking equipment that makes noise.
  • 0

#19 shep854

shep854

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 20,478 posts

Posted 30 January 2018 - 0917 AM

I remember when Michael Yon explained how location data in cell phone photos compromises OPSEC. 


  • 0

#20 Chris Werb

Chris Werb

    In Zod We Trust

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 10,984 posts

Posted 31 January 2018 - 1517 PM

Ryan, I'm surprised you don't send a friend to check in at the restaurant using your phone whilst you hunker down behind a pile of sandbags in your home waiting to mow down the burglars with some kind of vintage machine gun.
  • 0