FourSquare is notorious for disclosing the location of users to world+dog, but the perils of applications that tell potential burglars or stalkers you aren't at home extend far beyond social networks.
Garmin Connect, which allows members to upload GPS computer data from cycling trips, shares this data by default, creating a privacy issue that many users may have failed to notice. The feature was spotted by Mark Croonen, secretary of the Australian Defense Cycling Club.
Croonen warns that even if a user shields ride data from public view these changes will not be applied retrospectively, so previous ride data will be disclosed.
"When you upload your ride data, by default Garmin Connect shares your data with the world unless you specifically change the privacy settings," Croonen explains. "So all things being equal the average user won’t give this a second thought and will leave the settings on public access. Furthermore even if you do change the default settings it won’t change the settings for any rides you have already uploaded, you’ll have to go back and manually change the setting for each ride."
Surfers can browse the Garmin Connect site to identify riders in a particular area and times when are habitually away from home without even having to log on, arguably creating a handy utility for potential burglars in the process. The perils of making location updates available through social networking services such as FourSquare, most clearly illustrated by the PleaseRobMe site, also apply to Garmin Connect, and probably many other web applications.
"I don’t mean to pick on Garmin Connect as I’m sure other services probably have the same issue but if you are going to use these services this is probably something you want to keep in mind," Croonen concludes in a thought-provoking entry on his blog, The Cycle Way. ®
A hat tip to the security researchers at Sunbelt for bringing this issue to wider attention.