So you got a fancy wristwatch for Christmas and it tells you everything: How many steps you’ve taken, what your heart rate is, blood pressure, how many calories you burned during physical training ... Everything.
That’s a great thing, right? The more you know, the better you, as a soldier, can prepare to advance your career.
Technology is amazing and can do so much to better our lives, whether we are serving our nation, the family of our service members or even an older curmudgeon such as myself. Knowledge is power, after all, so the more you know, the better off you are.
But there is a downside to technology as well. While your fancy gadget is tracking your calories, companies out there are tracking you — and what your patterns are when it comes to that 5-mile run you make every Monday through Friday at 6:30 a.m.
Strava, the makers of a fitness tracking application, posted a “heat map” online recently that shows the routes our troops are using on their daily runs or cycling. From what I understand, these maps were of our troops overseas in locations such as Europe. They also outlined secret military installations, such as the infamous Area 51, along with forward operating facilities in Afghanistan.
So much for operational security.
The Department of Defense suggests that all service members, DoD civilians and their family members — if stationed with them in some of these locations — put any of these devices on the highest personal security settings possible. Do not allow the devices to link with applications that record your data. Even though an application can give you a full readout of your last workout, it’s probably best to go “old school” and write down your information by hand in a journal instead of keeping it online. It’s a lot more difficult for a tech-savvy terrorist to find you and kill you if they can’t find you.
And apparently, a good hacker can find out all your information through these applications you sign up for. I’d rather not pay the ultimate price for my nation while out on an early-morning run because I was wearing a beacon that shouts to the world, “Here I am!”
Granted, I don’t have one of these gadgets, nor have I had any interest in getting one. My phone is already too smart for me, so I’d hate to have my watch secretly laughing at me as well. Besides, if you ever see me running, you should probably try to run faster than me, because there is probably something really bad behind me.
So stay alert, stay safe, and think hard about what technology you are wearing. It could save your life.
David A. BRYANT is an Army retiree and a military journalist for the Killeen Daily Herald. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 254-501-7554.