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Treasonous Activity: Strava users will no longer be able to create segments

A week after the debate began about how much the publicly available data from the tracking provider Strava reveals not only about users, the company has apparently deactivated a central function of the service, at least for some. As several Strava users have noticed, they can currently no longer create new segments that allow comparisons between athletes on any route. For others, however, the function is apparently still available. In connection with a global map of the collected activities of Strava users that had been available for years, the segments even allowed the de-anonymization of individual users, such as soldiers on remote military bases.

Secret military bases made public

Last week a student noticed and made it public that athletic soldiers have been disclosing a lot of confidential data about themselves, their comrades and their armies for years thanks to activity trackers. The "Global Heatmap", published in 2015 and updated last November, visualized more than a billion activities, including those of Western soldiers in Afghanistan, for example. This not only makes it possible to identify previously unknown outposts: By comparing the locations discovered in this way with local Strava segments, current activities of individual soldiers can also be viewed in some cases, which should give space for possible attacks. For example, they can be traced back to their homeland through their activities.

The blogger Steve Loughran then even determined that users could use self-created segments to bring activities to light that were not even collected in a segment with a leaderboard. To do this, he created a running track in a British military base, where, according to the heat map, athletes had run regularly. After a while, Strava filled the segment it had created with the users who had been there before. Loughran now had a list of suspected soldiers who had trained in the shielded facility with the tracker activated. Without the possibility of creating segments, at least this possibility of attack is eliminated. Strava has not yet commented on this.

(mho)

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