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Mark Croonen, who is the secretary of the Australian Defense Cycling Club and obviously a really serious cyclist, drew our attention to this privacy and security issue with Garmin Connect, a website on which members can upload GPS computer data from their cycling trips for others to see.

He wrote: “when you upload your ride data, by default Garmin Connect shares your data with the world unless you specifically change the privacy settings. 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.”

Croonen said the problem is that a miscreant can use the service to profile users in preparation for burglarizing their homes. Using the Garmin Connect site (without logging on), it would be possible to find riders in any area and determine what days they regularly out riding, running or whatever else they do with their Garmin GPS devices.

He said, “to a thief this is wonderful news. I’m going to guess that if you have a Garmin you’re a reasonably keen cyclist and as such you’re probably going to have a couple of bikes. (Btw I can also find out what type of Garmin you have). So I know where you live, what time you go out and how long you will be out for. Thank you the bike shop is open. As you can see from this user I just need to go around to their place on a Saturday or Sunday morning and I will have about an hour to do what I like,” he wrote.

Garmin 1

Garmin 2

“From here I can zoom in on their activities and see when they are out riding, walking etc. From here I can quickly look for patterns as to when the user will be out of the house and for how long.”

Garmin 3

Garmin 4

Garmin 5

“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.”

Mark’s discussion is “Security concerns with Garmin Connect” on his blog “The Cycle Way.”

Thanks Mark

Tom Kelchner