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.
Nathan Ruser, a member of the Institute for United Conflict Analysts, pointed out how examining remote areas on the map which display a high concentration of exercise could give away the location of secret bases and military operations.
Similar to Strava, Polar is showing an individual's activity - their route, date, time, etc - on the map, and then adds even more information potentially revealing this same information about their home. That, scarily enough, may even include things like the location of an individual's home, a profile photo, and more.
In contrast, the Polar Flow app discloses all the exercise information of a user on a single map, reports Bellingtcat on its website. It seems the Strava app was used by soldiers who use fitness devices such as Fitbit and Garmin while they were out and about jogging. A total of 650,000 exercise logs were discovered in the investigation.More news: ANP leader Haroon Bilour among 12 killed in Peshawar blast, police say
The discovery, detailed today in a joint investigation from Bellingcat and Dutch journalism platform De Correspondent, involves Polar sharing data from its users, complete with profile pictures and often actual names of users, via a publicly available "Explore" feature.
Among the identified 6.5 thousand people were the FBI, NASA, submariners, members of organizations associated with nuclear weapons, American troops in Baghdad and Guantanamo and Russian soldiers. It doesn't take a genius strategist to consider how this information could pose a huge threat to security worldwide.
Civilians using the feature could also be targeted by people wanting to locate them.
Polar has issued a statement addressing the security loophole, clarifying that there has been no leak or breach of private data, and has apologized for the suspension of its Explore feature.More news: Trump administration halts billions in Obamacare payments to health insurers
Naturally, this will lead to stricter guidelines for personnel at such facilities as to which devices they can and can't use for fitness tracking. I mean, you can do that if you like, that's completely your prerogative.
The map, which has since been taken down, allowed anyone to search other people's workouts by location. Like with every other app that has one hand in your personal data and the other in the internet, you should always err on the side of caution when doing things like creating a profile or sharing your location.
In a statement, the company stated it was suspending the Explore API but also denied there was any leak of information. However, if in the meantime you'd like to batten down the hatches just in case, he advises doing things like creating a profile that doesn't reflect your actual identity and monitoring your app permissions.
Polar shows all the user sessions, starting in 2014 all over the world on one map.More news: Lifting of emergency rule: Turkey sacks more than 18,000 personnel