There is a possibility that Belgian soldiers posted to Baltic countries will no longer be able to use their personal smartphones in the near future, because of fears about Russian espionage. VRT reported on the story on Friday. “We know that Russia is interested in this type of mobile geolocation data”, Colonel Carl Gillis told VRT. “We have been investing in prevention and awareness for years, but it would appear that wasn’t enough”.
Mobile application Strava, a very popular app for recording sports activity via GPS, has unintentionally revealed sensitive information about soldiers and their location much too often. Last summer, an application called Polar, which records physical activity, disactivated its location function after researchers discovered it could to be used to gather sensitive information about soldiers and intelligence service members from 69 countries.
The Belgian Defence department has therefore decided to introduce stricter rules. Soldiers operating in Baltic countries, which border Russia, are not allowed to use their personal devices when they leave their base under any circumstances.
“Unfortunately, we can’t be like the British and use disposable mobile phones and laptops. The Defence department just doesn’t have the money”, says Colonel Gillis. He added that Belgium is not the only country to introduce stricter rules: the Netherlands also did so recently.
Despite all this, Colonel Gillis has said that the Defence department will make sure soldiers posted abroad can stay in touch with their families.