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View Full Version : Military being GPS tracked


SnowFella
29th Jan 2018, 03:21
And it's all online apparently.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jan/28/fitness-tracking-app-gives-away-location-of-secret-us-army-bases

Get a feeling there's about to be a fitbit shakedown for anyone deployed or working somewhere sensitive.

VP959
29th Jan 2018, 07:52
You really couldn't make this up, could you?

It perfectly illustrates how far behind the curve governments are when it comes to the way data is being collected and correlated by commercial entities and then made available for anyone in the world to see.

I've made the point elsewhere about the power of correlating seemingly innocuous personal data - this just illustrates one tiny way that the technique can work.

Laarbruch72
29th Jan 2018, 08:38
It perfectly illustrates how far behind the curve governments are

I'm not sure it does, I think what it perfectly illustrates is the modern individual's approach to social media at all costs, and a poor attitude to PERSEC.
I admit that I'm not sure what the current US policy is on connected devices, perhaps it's been relaxed although I'd doubt it; But the last time I served alongside them in Iraq, phones and anything similarly connected were banned in theatre and PERSEC was a mandatory briefing including topics like how enemy agents will correlate and use data like this and how potentially devastating it can be. So the governments do what they can. It never stopped people who thought they knew better from smuggling devices in, buying shonky local sim cards in direct contravention of policy, and then telling the world via social media where they'd been and what they were up to including helpful pictures and location tags.

There's no problem using a fitbit in itself, but uploading the data to Strava is stupid in an active theatre. Individuals carry more responsibility here than you allude to.

VP959
29th Jan 2018, 09:10
I've been retired for 6 years, yet I can remember very clearly being cautioned at regular briefings about data correlation from the most unlikely seeming sources, and how that data could be used, with other data, to generate useful intelligence.

Surely the same briefings are still routine today, aren't they?

From the extent of the military data that this app has made available online I would say those briefings either aren't happening any more, or they are being ignored. That implies to me that someone has taken their eye off the ball and not realised just how all-pervasive personal data collection has become. This doesn't look like a few military or civilian personnel on secure bases being a bit lax, it looks like there is a significant issue with a lot of people on these sites not realising that what they were doing was going to end up on the web, for all to see.

Pontius Navigator
29th Jan 2018, 09:18
VP, i preceded your retirement but IMHO Persec was a pull item rather than push. Too easy to avoid and often seen as an embuggerance rather than essential security issue. Indeed I think many security issues were seen in a similar light, especially computer passwords.

VP959
29th Jan 2018, 09:28
VP, i preceded your retirement but IMHO Persec was a pull item rather than push. Too easy to avoid and often seen as an embuggerance rather than essential security issue. Indeed I think many security issues were seen in a similar light, especially computer passwords.

My last but one office was the former camp commandant's office at a well-known secure establishment, not far from BDN, with a somewhat dubious past reputation. In one corner of it there was the original strong room, with a steel door around 4" thick, essentially a very large safe. Still taped inside that door were the commandants standing orders from 1916, that started with words something like this:

Remember that all work undertaken at this establishment is MOST SECRET and no detail, no matter how trivial, is to be communicated to anyone outside the Establishment, or anyone who does not hold the correct level of authorisation

Much earlier, back in the Cold War era, and before the internet, I remember being briefed on how data correlation could be used to obtain very useful intelligence from small, seemingly innocuous, snippets. With the advent of the internet, it's now dead easy to correlate data, it's how the biggest names in the business generate most of their revenue, so I find it pretty staggering that whatever briefings may have been given were either inadequate or ignored in this case.

Pontius Navigator
29th Jan 2018, 09:37
VP, I remember a couple of films Any One of Us which was good viewing, circa 1960s and another on Comsec that featured an Army Commander not observing protocols, always at the front of the battle, identified in peacetime by the Soviets and come hostilities directly targeted.

The latter was an Army film and i saw it at a base in Kent. These are good films, expensive to make, and all too rare.

I recall during GW1 and the Army move west behind the front. News blackout but a BBC reporter deliberately stood with a town name behind him and a grin on his face having evaded to censor. Prast.

VP959
29th Jan 2018, 10:00
It's interesting looking back at how the relationship with the media during conflicts shifted. The Falklands War was the first where I think we had near-live broadcasts on TV from close to the front line, and it was clear then that there was a lot of overt censorship. The infamous Brian Hanrahan quote: ‘I am not allowed to say how many planes joined the raid, but I counted them all out and I counted them all back. Their pilots were unhurt, cheerful and jubilant, giving thumbs-up signs.’ sticks in my mind, as I was pretty certain that a friend was flying one of the Harriers involved (I found out later that he was).

I can remember seeing quite a few films about security in the 70's and 80's, but by the 90's we'd shifted to personal briefings on specific "hot topics", probably because the threat level from the former Soviet Union had seemingly gone and the films were expensive to make.

Fareastdriver
29th Jan 2018, 15:09
We won the Falklands conflict because the media was censored. We seem to have lost all the rest.

westernhero
29th Jan 2018, 17:15
I thought it took days before news footage from the Falklands got back not " near live " ?

VP959
29th Jan 2018, 17:34
I thought it took days before news footage from the Falklands got back not " near live " ?

I think you're right; IIRC they only had very limited satellite times, so there were some delays. Not sure it was days though, more like 24 hours or so, I think. I was working 24 hours a day at the time, napping on a camp bed in the lab, trying to get fixes sorted for a particularly nasty Mk46 torpedo arming problem they had in the deep water down there, but we did have a TV set up in the lab to try and see what was happening.

I remember feeling chuffed when watching one of Brian Hanrahan's reports, where there was a crew arming up a helo with pre-production Stingrays in the background, weapons that we'd got ready and flown down to Ascension so they could be used if needed. As it happened, I don't think the Argentinian submarine threat materialised at all, but quite a few whales got a nasty surprise.........

Back on topic, listening to a news report in the car an hour or so ago, some chap who was supposedly an expert on the Fitbit system said that it wasn't a case of sloppy privacy settings by the users, all they do is hide the ID of an individual so their data could only be seen by friends, rather than anyone with one of these things. The company were collecting all the data that has been used on the recent map even if all the privacy settings were on, as all the data is uploaded regardless. Bit like previous discussions on how intrusive some of this kit can be, from a privacy perspective, without the users being aware.

MG23
30th Jan 2018, 01:34
It's actually worse than it sounds:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/a-map-showing-the-users-of-fitness-devices-lets-the-world-see-where-us-soldiers-are-and-what-they-are-doing/2018/01/28/86915662-0441-11e8-aa61-f3391373867e_story.html

"The Pentagon has encouraged the use of Fitbits among military personnel and in 2013 distributed 2,500 of them as part of a pilot program to battle obesity."

So soldiers are getting too fat, the military is giving them Fitbits to try to get them thinner (because sending them on assault courses eight hours a day would presumably be oppression or something), and the soldiers are uploading their locations to the Internet.

vapilot2004
30th Jan 2018, 02:17
Internet enabled devices and software should come out of the box with tracking and sharing options set to "disabled". This should be a law. There should also be clear and concise statements regarding what data is shared outside of the usual boilerplate legalese that nobody reads.

The situation highlights the power, as VP alludes to, in the collection and distribution of meta data, which nearly every digital device and software company is involved with.

Pontius Navigator
30th Jan 2018, 07:32
Vapilot, quite, remember how routers came with security as an option not a default.

vapilot2004
30th Jan 2018, 09:53
I do, PN. Security as an option seems quaint and naive these days.

I feel as if we're at the threshold of the Gilded Age of things digital, with a foot still in the soil of the Wild Wild West.