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Are Your Facebook Posts Compromising Military Security?

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Did you miss my latest article over at Military1?

Social Media GuideIn order to avoid letting sensitive information slip, familiarize yourself with the following ins and outs of OPSEC.

Have you ever been on social media and asked an innocent question such as, “When and where is the homecoming for our unit”?

People may have responded with one phrase, “OPSEC.”

Perhaps you’ve heard this phrase before, but what does it really mean?

OPSEC stands for ‘Operations Security.’ Essentially, it is a reminder to keep quiet about critical information which could negatively impact our military forces. In the case above, people are likely using it because the information you’ve requested is sensitive and if it got in the hands of the enemy, it could be used to put our troops in harm’s way. 

In order to avoid letting sensitive information slip, familiarize yourself with the following ins and outs of OPSEC.

According to the Marines Social Media Handbook, here are examples of what families can post

  • Pride and support for service, units, specialties, and service members
  • Generalizations about service or duty
  • General status of the location of a unit (“operating in southern Afghanistan” as opposed to “operating in the village of Hajano Kali in Arghandab district in southern Afghanistan”)
  • Links to published articles about the unit or service member
  • Any other information already in the public domain

On the flip side, here’s what is considered ‘sensitive’ information.  We want to avoid posting this kind of information online and remind others not to post as well.

  • Detailed information about a unit’s mission
  • Locations and times of deployed units
  • Security procedures
  • Morale or personnel problems within units
  • Personal photos taken overseas while deployed. Some may contain location information which could be detrimental to our troops. If you want to share military photos, look for the ones previously released by the military.
  • Large scale personnel transactions like pay locations, dates, wills or power of attorneys
  • Casualty and fatality information: never discuss this information online until families have been notified through the DoD

Remaining vigilant about what you are posting online is important. Think carefully about everything you put on the internet  – most anyone can access it, and it’s  out there forever. Now let’s take a look at how you conduct yourself in and around town as well. Have you considered that you could be a target at home? The following military or family pride information can lead to a series of problems.

  • Placing stick figures on the back of your cars is a terrible idea; now people can determine how many people are in your family. If you’ve added your family member’s names, they can use the information to create a false sense of security with your child or try to trick someone into picking up your child when you’re not around.
  • Those bumper stickers sporting your child’s accomplishments at your school? Now they know which school your kids go to.
  • The Blue Star Banners posted at home or on your car (flags with a blue star representing families serving) can open you up as a target since you’re most likely the only female adult home.
  • Posting photos online with metadata  is an obvious danger because people can discover where you live and frequent. Remove the geo tags from your photos before uploading.
  • Your personalized license plate often gives away unit or job information about your service member. It may serve as an opportunity to target your vehicle to discover sensitive information locked inside your vehicle on your cellphone, bag, or computer.

As the Marine handbook puts it, “An adversary’s agents tasked with collecting information will frequently visit some of the same stores, clubs, recreational areas, or places of worship that you do. They can also easily collect data from cordless and cellular phones and even baby monitors using inexpensive receivers available from local electronics stores.”

Being aware of your surroundings is vital. We can all take small steps to make big changes with what we put out online and in turn, help keep our families and troops safe.

 

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