Like Strava, could Snapchat inadvertently reveal sensitive info?
I saw a Tweet from CNN Tech.
The report was about how Strava, the fitness device, generates a heatmap showing people’s location when they train. Of course, this map only shows those who let their location information on Public and not those who set it to Private.
— CNN Tech (@cnntech) January 29, 2018
The report focuses on the fact that the Strava heatmap could be used to identify where the security forces are located. For example: anyone could look at the heatmap and find an army barracks, and then identify where in the base the most activity happens indicating a collection of personnel.
This got me thinking about Snapchat.
Around the middle of 2017, Snapchat released a new feature that allowed you to see where your friends are on a feature called Snap Map. Try it – just pinch the screen and you will see a map where Snap are currently being shared, you will see your friends and a heatmap.
Seeing Friends: You can set your Snapchat to keep your location private and your friends can’t see you when you are in Ghost Mode. You can also allow specific friends to see your location or all your friends.
Our Story: If you share a Snap with “our Story” then regardless of what you set your location setting to be, it will still appear for anyone to see.
Heatmap: If you zoom around the globe, you can see a heatmap of where Snap action is happening. You can zoom into a location and get an idea of where people are snapping which are usually during Sporting events, music concerts, Awards evenings etc. You can see this info for any part in the world.
I can’t seem to find a way to opt of the heatmap
It isn’t clear, if I chose the “Ghost Mode” then does my info NOT contribute to the heatmap or it does but just doesn’t show my story or exact location? I can’t seem to find a way to opt of the heatmap.
If that is the case, then the Snapchat Heatmap COULD also be used to identify large population of troops or security forces on a base if they happen to use Snapcat?
Here is how you can access this feature and enable/ disable who can see what: https://support.snapchat.com/en-US/a/snap-map-location-settings
So in Summary:
We are holding a tracking beacon. Most people don’t think twice about installing a new app and just accept the default security questions that the phone prompts.
We manually give permission for the app to track us and then are surprised when it does!
Next time you install any app – just watch the permission screen and ask yourself if Scrabble or Chess really needs to have access to your GPS or Microphone or camera or camera roll? Does it need access to your Facebook? Why does it need you to log in? Why are you using Facebook to login to apps anyways where you give away even more info about your habbits? Always log in with your email and a password and don’t take the lazy way out with a social media login option.
We need to be more proactive about keeping our info, our own.