Researchers have been able to uncover the identities and track the movements of military and intelligence personnel by using visual and geo-locational information found on a popular smartphone application for beer aficionados. The information uncovered included the home addresses of United States government personnel, some of whom were found to be working at a secret Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) facility.
The application, or “app” in question is Untappd, which is arguably the most popular social media platform for beer aficionados in the United States and much of Western Europe. The app is believed to have over 8 million users worldwide, with many of whom serving in the armed forces or intelligence agencies. Untappd users are able to rate beers, share reviews of breweries and bars, post photographs, and discuss their findings with other users.
Earlier this week, a team of researchers working for the investigative website Bellingcat said that visual and geo-locational information collected from Untappd users compromised the movements and whereabouts of military and intelligence personnel who used the app.
Much of the information was collected by monitoring the activity of app users at bars or breweries located near known facilities belonging to intelligence agencies or the military —including the Pentagon. In one case, the movements of an individual user were traced all the way from his home to the Armed Forces Experimental Training Activity (AFETA). Known as Camp Peary, AFETA is a United States Department of Defense facility that is believed to be home to the CIA’s training grounds.
In other instances, photographs of beers posted by Untappd users contained snippets of US government employee badges, sensitive or classified documents, and even credit card and other personal information. Used collectively, the data extracted from the app could be utilized to build travel and habit profiles of users, including the work and home locations of military and intelligence persons
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