OPSEC at Home
What is Operations Security (OPSEC)?
It is the process used to identify and protect sensitive information from people who want to use it to harm our families and military mission. It is important that OPSEC is practiced throughout all military families. If you hear a military dependent or member say something that you think is borderline OPSEC, tell them! They might not be aware what OPSEC is!!
A quick and easy way to imagine what OPSEC is defined as is think of a “spy” collecting information but one piece is left out. The “Spy” (you don’t know he/she is one) happens to sit behind you at a fast food restaurant and you are talking to your mom on the phone discussing when you are flying out to meet your spouse. Boom you just gave that “Spy” the last bit of information he needed to fill in his big puzzle and you didn’t even know you did it. Therefore, never discuss sensitive information in public, on the phone, through text, email or PM’s/DM’s, etc. This is for the safety of the military families, military members, and the mission. You will never know what the “Spy’s” ultimate goal is, but anything you say could give the “Spy” more information to fuel the fire.
With the hustle and bustle of everyday life it is easy to overlook the information we know and how to protect the information. Below are a few tips to keep you and your family safe.
- Be alert in your neighborhood. Report anything suspicious to the local police. A strange car parked outside your home with someone in it for a length of time (15 minutes or more) – suspicious – report it!
- Make sure you verify the identity of workers before allowing any workers entry to your home. Ask the worker questions and keep an eye on the work they are completing in your home. This also goes for movers!!
- Be cautious about giving out information regarding travel plans to those who do not have a “Need to Know”. Be extremely cautious and avoid text messages, talking on phone about any travel for military dependents or military members.
- Also, be aware what you say when you are home with windows open, at restaurants, day care, school, grocery, on your cell in public places, etc…
- When traveling, leave your home with a lived-in look by using timers for lights, TV, or radio and have a neighbor collect your mail and newspapers or place a temporary stop on your mail and newspaper delivery. This is especially important during the holidays.
- Close windows when not home and lock all doors. Remember your cars too!!
- When traveling with laptops or any electronics, make sure you have some sort of password or code, turn it off when not in use, and try to minimize any saved passwords.
- Email’s to your spouse should never discuss specific places, times, dates, or mission. Avoid asking any questions to which would violate OPSEC.
- Don’t throw away letters or packages from loved ones with addresses still attached. Remove and destroy it.
Teach your kids to not to tell anybody:
- The exact area that your loved one is in (the Country is okay)
- When your loved one is going to leave to deploy
- How long they’ll be deployed for
- If strangers ask you a lot of questions about your loved one, don’t tell them anything! Do tell a trusted adult of the stranger with questions, like a teacher or parent
- Don’t talk about deployment dates or countdowns.
- Don’t talk about military member’s job!
- Don’t give strangers your name or address!
- Don’t throw away letters or packages from your loved ones with addresses!
On Electronic Devises & Social Media:
Social Networking Sites (SNS), like Facebook®, Instagram and Twitter®, are software applications that connect people and information in spontaneous, interactive ways. While SNS can be useful and fun, they can provide adversaries, such as terrorists, spies and criminals, with critical information needed to harm you or disrupt your mission. Practicing OPSEC will help you to recognize your critical information and protect it from an adversary.
THINK BEFORE YOU POST! Remember, your information could become public at any time due to hacking, configuration errors, social engineering or the business practice of selling or sharing user data.
Hints to avoid compromising OPSEC:
- Don’t chat with someone unless you know them in real-life.
- Avoid “friending” everyone who requests
- Make your profile private where only friends can see pictures you post through security and privacy settings.
- Be careful of the pictures you post.
- Avoid posting pictures of military members with Names on their uniform and tagging the military members.
- Don’t use hashtags.
- Sort “friends” into groups and networks, and set access permissions accordingly?
- Don’t discuss deployment details – port visits, R&R, etc..
- Stay away from details such as dates, jobs, length, port visits, etc.
- Be wary of anyone you meet on line, even if you met through official military social networking sites
- Be smart about what you post on social media sites. Posting things such as “Going on vacation for two weeks” is really like telling people, “My house will be COMPLETELY empty for two weeks!”
- Absolutely NO countdowns.
- Trying to be clever or speaking in code really doesn’t work! It can also lead to slip-ups. Be safe and just avoid talking about subjects that can lead to OPSEC violations.
- Keep your anti-virus and spam protection up to date on your computers.
- Turn off Geo-Tracking on all devises especially phones.
- Never tag locations.
- Beware of links, downloads, and attachments just as you would in e-mails.
- Beware of “apps” or plugins, which are often written by unknown third parties who might use them to access your data and friends.
- Look for HTTPS and the lock icon that indicate active transmission security before logging in or entering sensitive data (especially when using wi-fi hotspots).
If you have any questions about OPSEC talk to your spouse to talk to their command OPSEC officer! Don’t be afraid to ask questions. The more questions they receive the more they know what to train their command/unit on.
If you have anything you would like to add below, comment below!!