Pentagon Reviewing Security after Fitness Apps Show Military Locations

Jim Lewis, a cyber expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said fitness trackers were just one way that all mobile wireless technology can undermine operational security and give adversaries an edge.

(Reuters) — U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has ordered a review of security protocols, officials say, after fitness tracking devices broadcast patterns of movement at military facilities around the world, including in war zones.


Nathan Russer, a student at the Australian National University in Canberra, drew attention to data when he wrote on Twitter about the images after stumbling upon GPS tracking company Strava's Global Heatmap. It can be viewed here.

"Once you look at Syria you can see a bunch of bright spots," Russer said.

His discovery prompted others to scour the heat map, turning up other possible locations of U.S. and other mostly Western personnel who typically use high-tech fitness devices, including elsewhere in the Middle East and in Africa.

Although many of the bases cited by Russer and others are well-known outposts that host U.S. and U.S.-backed personnel, there are clear risks that such tracking devices pose, potentially disclosing not just the broad locations where foreign troops operate but the routes they travel.

There is also the risk that Strava itself could become a target of nations trying to mine its data to discover identifiable information about who was wearing the devices.

Jim Lewis, a cyber expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said fitness trackers were just one way that all mobile wireless technology can undermine operational security and give adversaries an edge.

"The Russians are pretty good at this and there are ways to combine the data from trackers with social media profiles," Lewis said.

"Social networks are the bane of operational security."

The Department of Defense said it encourages all defense personnel, wherever they are, to limit their public presence on the internet. That guidance is even more strict when troops operate in sensitive locations.

But officials said Mattis was aware of the issue and had ordered a review.

"DOD takes matters like these very seriously and is reviewing the situation to determine if any additional training or guidance is required," the Pentagon said in a statement, without directly confirming that U.S. troops had used the fitness trackers.

The Pentagon also said it was considering whether additional steps needed to be taken "to ensure the continued safety of DOD personnel at home and abroad."

Pentagon spokesman Colonel Robert Manning told reporters at a news briefing he did not know of any instances in which U.S. base security had been compromised as a result of the mapping.

Read more news @ DiversityInc.com

Senate Panel To Hold Hearing On Sexual Abuse Of Olympic Athletes

The scandal prompted the entire board of directors at USA Gymnastics and the president and athletic director of Michigan State University to resign. It also spawned lawsuits and criminal and civil investigations.

REUTERS

(Reuters) — The U.S. Senate will hold a hearing next week into how the U.S. Olympic Committee, USA Gymnastics and other sports organizations handled sexual misconduct allegations.

Read More Show Less

Actors' Union Calls for End to Meetings in Private Hotel Rooms

SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris said in a statement posted on the union's website, "We are committed to addressing the scenario that has allowed predators to exploit performers behind closed doors under the guise of a professional meeting."

REUTERS

(Reuters) — The United States' largest actors' union on Thursday called for an end to auditions and professional meetings in private hotel rooms and residences to protect its members from "potential harassment or exploitation."

Read More Show Less

Stephens Serves Up Tennis to Inner City Youth

"We have to go into communities that are underprivileged and under-served and introduce tennis to them," Stephens said.

REUTERS

(Reuters) — U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens on Thursday unveiled refurbished tennis courts at a school in impoverished Compton, Calif., the latest in an ongoing effort by the African American player to expand the reach of the sport to minorities.

Read More Show Less

Why Jay-Z Told David Letterman Some Good Has Come from the Trump Presidency

Duo tackles effect of administration in an episode of Letterman's Netflix series.

REUTERS

Hip-hop icon and businessman Jay-Z sat down with former late night host David Letterman where he referred to the presidency as "actually a great thing."

Read More Show Less

White Candidate for State House: ‘I’m a Member of the African American Community’

"I've eaten at many a fish fry held by my 'brothers' and 'sisters,' 'aunts' and 'uncles' in that community," Shipman said in his defense. "I was born a poor Black child," said Steve Martin in "The Jerk."

A Democrat hailing from North Carolina hoping to join the state House claims that he is a part of the African American community.

"I'm a member of the African American community," said Gary Shipman on Sunday. "I've been where you are. I've been in your communities."

Read More Show Less