Polar Fitness Trackers Reveal All About Military Personnel

Fitness tracker Polar gives away identities & locations of military intelligence worldwide

Fitness tracker Polar gives away identities & locations of military intelligence worldwide

The Polar app is similar to the Strava app in that it has made heat maps accessible to the public, making military locations and even the residences of military personnel public, if you know what to look for (and hackers always know what to look for).

A statement from the company last week, confirms that public location data "could provide insight into potentially sensitive locations" however they claim it is not the case for all users as "there has been no breach of private data".

Finding Western military service personnel was easy by cross-referencing names found on the Polar website with social network profiles such as those found on LinkedIn.

A joint investigation by De Correspondent and Bellingcat has revealed that it was possible to discover the locations of secret military sites around the globe from the data found via the Explore function.

Sensitive information on Polar's Explore global activity map is revealed by locating a military base, selecting an nearby exercise to identify an attached profile and checking for other locations the individual had exercised in. So someone exercising on a military base will not only reveal where the base is, but also where they live as fitness trackers are typically turned off when entering a home, and turned back on when leaving it several hours later (and usually overnight).


"With only a few clicks, a high-ranking officer of an airbase known to host nuclear weapons can be found jogging across the compound in the morning", security researcher Foeke Postma said in a blog post Sunday after an investigation with the Dutch news organization De Correspondent.

They've also identified personnel at intelligence agencies in the US, UK, France, the Netherlands, and Russian Federation. Earlier this year, those who use the Strava app got a rude wake-up call when it was revealed that military bases and personnel were at risk by using the app. They allowed for enough time for all of them to fix the existing problem before they went public with it.

Bellingcat explains why Polar's map design made it so much less secure for users' data than its competitor's maps. But these default settings were only introduced in August 2017.

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.

"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 noted. And you can see where those runs start and stop. It also connects with the company's own heart-rate monitor, and results can be compared with others' via the company's Polar Flow social platform.

Recommended News

  • Israel set to land spacecraft on the moon in early 2019

    Israel set to land spacecraft on the moon in early 2019

    Once it touches down on the moon, the spacecraft will use its cameras to take photos and video of the lunar surface. Speaking to JNS, Kahn said, "I think this will give us a sense of tremendous pride".
    Trump administration freezes risk adjustment payments

    Trump administration freezes risk adjustment payments

    The move brought a sharp response from health insurers warning of market disruptions and higher costs. In the MA case, however, a federal judge upheld the Obamacare formula, the Journal reports .
    Indiana Jones 5 Gets New Release Date & Marvel Film

    Indiana Jones 5 Gets New Release Date & Marvel Film

    The delays and production demands mean that Steven Spielberg will delay work on the film, with a new date set for 9 July, 2021. Disney announced a slew of new release dates including Indiana Jones 5 and an untitled Marvel film.
  • Final Rescue Mission For Trapped Thai Boys' Football Team Is Underway

    Final Rescue Mission For Trapped Thai Boys' Football Team Is Underway

    Tests on the first two groups rescued found no infection with any unsafe disease, the health inspector-general said. The disappearance, discovery and rescue of the Wild Boars soccer team has gripped people all over the world.
    5 big changes in the 2019 PGA Tour schedule

    5 big changes in the 2019 PGA Tour schedule

    If they play the following week's WGC event in Memphis, golfers are looking at five tournaments in six weeks to end the season. Meanwhile, The Players Championship, which once occupied the month of May, will be played March 11-17, 2019.
    How do Johnson and Davis’ resignations affect the Prime Minister?

    How do Johnson and Davis’ resignations affect the Prime Minister?

    Many took the opportunity to make fun of the former Brexit Secretary over his short tenure and the timing of his decision to quit. Certainly not what would be needed to make Theresa May's proposed third way for Brexit work as she now presents it.
  • Facebook hit with U.K. fine over user privacy

    It also said it would send warning letters to 11 political parties to compel them to audit their data protection practices. The agency said Tuesday that the social media giant "contravened the law by failing to safeguard people's information".
    Serena Williams into Wimbledon semifinals for 11th time after Giorgi battle

    Serena Williams into Wimbledon semifinals for 11th time after Giorgi battle

    World No 52 Giorgi blasted 20 winners and really took it to Williams, taking the first set thanks to one break, in the sixth game. Evgeniya Rodina , another mother beaten by Williams yesterday, 6-2, 6-2, did the decent thing and said the American was her idol.
    Tropical Storm Chris approaches hurricane status

    Tropical Storm Chris approaches hurricane status

    Weather forecasters say Tropical Storm Chris has reached hurricane strength while moving away from the USA coast in the Atlantic. Interests along the coast of North Carolina and in Atlantic Canada should monitor the progress of Hurricane Chris.
  • The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje wins the Golden Man Booker Prize

    The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje wins the Golden Man Booker Prize

    Judge Kamila Shamsie said the story was truly "transformative" as she explained why she had selected it as the victor of the 90s. At the end of may, the jury selected five best books of the 51 who received the Pulitzer prize.
    Ronaldo signs for Juventus from Real Madrid

    Ronaldo signs for Juventus from Real Madrid

    But despite Zidane having been replaced by Julen Lopetegui, Hazard told beIN SPORTS his thinking had not really changed. Subsequently, Hazard sent a number of Chelsea fans into a anxious frenzy with his statements.
    Google Pay 2.70 integrates P2P ‘Sending,’ adds ‘Passes’ tab, & Activity feed [Gallery]

    Google Pay 2.70 integrates P2P ‘Sending,’ adds ‘Passes’ tab, & Activity feed [Gallery]

    We also know more brands and services will be integrated with Google Pay so expected related announcements in the coming months. Places like Eventbrite, Singapore Airlines, Vueling, and others will support the feature "soon".

We are pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news.
Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper.
Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.