The National Security Agency (NSA) has shared new guidance with US military and intelligence personnel, urging them to take additional precautions to protect their location data.
The agency says that the phones and applications used by soldiers may pose a threat to national security.
“Location data can be extremely valuable and should be protected,” the agency stressed in the newsletter published by The Wall Street Journal. So that it can reveal details about the number of users on the site, user movements and viewing, and daily routines, and it can otherwise reveal unknown links between users and sites.
Warning against the use of fitness trackers and smart watches
The National Security Agency has also warned against the use of fitness trackers and smart watches that can detect the path and location of soldiers, and for this it has made several recommendations so that employees should stop location services on their mobile devices and give the apps the fewest permissions possible.
The agency also recommends that employees turn off features that allow users to find lost or misplaced devices.
It is known that advertisers use location information primarily to target specific consumers in order to promote their products and services, but even governments have benefited from this feature as well.
Earlier, the Department of Homeland Security confirmed that it has been in the business of purchasing commercially available location data since 2017. According to the Wall Street Journal report, US Customs (ICE) used this data to obtain evidence of illegal immigrants and border crossings..
These institutions have expressed their fear that other governments will follow suit. This is not the first time that the US government is concerned about how modern devices and applications might inadvertently provide information to hostile powers. In 2018, the Pentagon banned soldiers and other individuals from using location services on their devices while stationed in bases and sensitive war zones.
The move came after the Strava fitness app revealed the location of US bases, patrol routes, and supply lines in Afghanistan