Snapchat’s new Map feature lets adversaries know way too much

My first reaction to Snapchat’s “whole new way to explore the world!”, Snap Map, was: I wonder how long until this proves to be a military operational security (OPSEC) risk.

The answer: less than 24 hours.

Exhibit A

Waiting to leave for a convoy or to re-deploy? The location and time of this video has been blurred.

I found this 5 second video, above, of a servicemember either ready to go on a convoy or ready to go home. Either way, posts like this don’t take but a few drags of the map to find.

We’re giving the bad guys extra eyes and ears to track Coalition forces patterns and movements.

Social media doesn’t speak post by itself

3 things happened for the video to go on Snap Map:

  1. The deployed servicemember found an internet connection (SIM cards and wi-fi in USO tents are easy to find in many modern combat zones).
  2. The phone’s location/GPS settings were enabled.
  3. The individual opted-in to Snap Maps and posted to the “Our Story.”

Being a new feature, this person may not have realized just how public and accessible his time-stamped and geo-tagged post was. But that’s the point…

Don’t fear emerging tech, understand it

Leaders can resort to banning SIM cards or internet access for their troops. But that comes at a significant morale loss.

Deployed Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines need to be aware of how much information they’re sharing by keeping their location services enabled. It’s not just Google or Snapchat that learn your location, when you share a 10 second clip, you’re likely sharing a great deal of hints to where you are, what you’re doing, and how long you’ll be there.

How Snap Map works

Snap Map is an impressive tool for discovering the world around you.

To open Snap Map pinch your main camera screen after you open Snapchat (make sure you have the latest update.

It’s a map-based layout of all of your “My Story” snaps. Like many of Snapchats features, including all color filters, Snap Map requires the user to enable their location services for posting and viewing.

Scrolling around the map you’ll find highlighted some of the featured event “My Stories”, the bitmojis of your friends who’ve enable Snap Map, and a heat map of where people around the world are posting public snaps.

The feature is based on Zenly, another app Snapchat recently acquired for $200+ million.