Polar fitness app exposed location of soldiers and government agents

Polar’s fitness app made it dangerously easy to track soldiers and secret agents worldwide

These devices connect to Polar Flow, the company's fitness app. The number of fitness trackers on the market, from Strava and Runkeeper to many others, suggests that the answer is no.

"Fitness devices and apps are just one more area where people need to be aware of what kind of data they are sharing, particularly as they strongly rely on sensitive data such as location and health-metrics", Postma concluded.

"It is important to understand that Polar has not leaked any data, and there has been no breach of private data".

This is so because the investigation team could precisely disclose the name, picture, and homes of Polar Flow app users residing in secretive locations "such as intelligence agencies, military bases and airfields, nuclear weapons storage sites, and embassies around the world".

We can find Western military personnel in Afghanistan through the Polar site.

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The case of the Finland-based company bears many similarities with that of fitness tracking app Strava, which involuntarily exposed the possible locations of many sensitive sites and military personnel on secret missions in combat zones.

The app, developed by Finnish software firm Polar, allows anyone to access location maps in order to track users' fitness activities.

Polar monitors heart rate, location, route, date and time of the training, the information can be shared on the social platform.

The Explore component of Polar Flow was meant to show anonymous data on its users and their activities around the globe, displaying it in a similar fashion to the activity map that was responsible for Strava's woes earlier in the year. It then becomes a very simple task to find an individual who works at a military base, including their name and what they look like, but also where they live.

Investigators at Dutch news website De Correspondent and Leicester-based site Bellingcat were also able to identify the names of personnel at these sites, The Daily Telegraph reports.

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Users of the Flow app were located at several military bases, including Erbil in northern Iraq, Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and Gao in Mali. The company also pointed out that the default setting on users' accounts is to keep all workouts private, so the users chose to share their activity.

What this is actually saying is that users have the option to mark their data as private via the user profile page in the app. Marking it private will also prevent the service from sharing information to third-party apps such as Facebook.

Worse, individual data goes back to 2014, and is displayed by Polar on a single map of the world. And you can see where those runs start and stop.

A spokesperson for Polar UK said: 'All profile, training sessions and activity summaries are all set to private by default.

Given that this would make it spectacularly easy to kidnap these people or even blow them up, it's not surprising that Polar has taken evasive action.

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