Nathan Ruser, a 20-year-old Australian National University student who is majoring in international security with a keen interest in cartography, discovered a fitness app had revealed the locations of secret military sites in Syria and elsewhere. He posted on Twitter about this, did not expect much response.
But the news ricocheted across the internet. Security experts said the Strave app’s “heat map” could be used by hostile entities glean valuable intelligence. The Pentagon said it was reviewing the situation.
How he found the news?
“Whoever thought that operational security could be wrecked by a Fitbit?” Mr. Ruser, said in an interview with New York Times from Thailand, where he is spending part of the Australian summer break.
When he looked over Syria on Strava’s map — which is based on location data from millions of users, including military personnel, who share their exercise activity — the area “lit up with those U.S. bases,” he said.
Before publicly sharing his findings over the weekend, he discussed them in a private chat group on Twitter, made up of people interested in intelligence and security issues. “I know about two-thirds of what I know about the world from the group chats,” he said.