Sunday, 21 October, 2018


Fitness app Polar Flow, exposed sensitive locations and home addresses

Fitness tracker Polar gives away identities & locations of military intelligence worldwide U.S. army officers west of Mosul Iraq
Patty Aguilar | 11 July, 2018, 13:32

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. "We also learned the names and addresses of personnel at nuclear storage facilities, maximum security prisons, military airports where nuclear weapons are stored, and drone bases", the De Correspondent reporters noted.

The reports examined more than 200 of these "sensitive" locations and found details of over 6,490 high-risk individuals across 69 nationalities, including locations in Russian Federation and Afghanistan.

Among them are United States troops in Iraq, Syria, Guantanamo Bay, those deployed to the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, staffers at the Federal Bureau of Investigation and NSA, military intelligence and cyber security specialists and many others stationed at bases in Africa, South Asia and the Middle East. You can also make the maps publicly available so other people can see where you're hitting the pavement. By looking at all their workouts, the journalists could often figure out a user's home address based on where they stopped and started most of their workouts.

Investigations made by Bellingcat and De Correspondent found that they were able to find "6,460 individuals across 69 different nationalities", working out likely at their home addresses through their exercise habits.

The researchers who compiled the data drew up a list of roughly 6,500 users using the app to publicly store data, including soldiers in sensitive areas and NSA workers.

As part of its response, Polar seems to have shut down its Explore API for the time being and has promised to "raise the level of privacy protection and heighten the awareness of good personal practices when it comes to sharing Global Positioning System location data".

In contrast, the Polar Flow app discloses all the exercise information of a user on a single map, reports Bellingtcat on its website.

Polar has since suspended its "explore" map and stated there was no data breach, as the data obtained was from public and not private profiles.

The company said users can opt out of having their profiles shared with the public. Thus, effectively, you can navigate to any location of your choice, select a profile, and get the entire history of that individual. Now the vast majority of Polar customers maintain the default private profiles and private sessions data settings and are not affected in any way by this case. Now the vast majority of Polar customers maintain the default private profiles and private sessions data settings, and are not affected in any way by this case.

Polar has acknowledged that the app's public settings "could provide insight into potentially sensitive locations" and said it would temporarily disable activity maps.

L.V. Anderson is Digg's managing editor.

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