Fitness App Polar Flow Inadvertently Reveals Military Personnel Locations, Addresses

No running sign

No running sign

Polar is the manufacturer of such popular running watches like the Polar M200 and M400, as well as fitness-oriented smartwatches like the Polar M430 and M600, while its Polar Flow app is used to organize and view user data.

"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.

'If your user profile is set to private, then your name/identity is not visible within Polar Flow'.

Unfortunately, in doing this, the company made it incredibly easy to map out and identify sensitive militaristic locations, from US bases to Turkish patrol areas.

Polar's fitness app had security flaws exposing the location data of its users, according to a joint investigation from De Correspondent and Bellingcat.

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.

The news comes in the wake of revelations separate fitness tracking data company Strava published a heat map visualisation of its users' athletic activity a year ago which revealed secret army base locations. That's partly because people often turn their fitness trackers on or off when they're close to home, unwittingly revealing where they live.

And, as we saw from Strava during a similar privacy issue, Polar has responded to the findings within Flow by temporarily shuttering the Explore feature.

"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.

"We found the names and addresses of personnel at military bases including Guantánamo Bay in Cuba, Erbil in Iraq, Gao in Mali, and bases in Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Chad, and South Korea".

Polar has become the latest fitness tracker to be accused of spilling identifying user data to all and sundry.

Making your data really private on Polar Flow used to require a number of non-obvious steps, which most users apparently either didn't know about or didn't bother with. These are now common every day devices, but the software they use and the data they share is revealing some of the most secretive locations in the world as well as detailed profiles of the people who work there. And you can see where those runs start and stop.

We reached out to Polar for comment on the reports, who responded: "All your profile, training sessions and activity summaries are all set to private by default". It's also odd that Polar didn't learn from Strava's mistake.

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