OPSEC: Keeping pace with social networking applications is critical

  • Published
  • By Jeff Jeghers
  • Installation OPSEC program manager
Call it foreign intelligence mitigation, a risk process for information or common sense, but however you understand it, you must practice what is referred to as operations security -- OPSEC -- and this practice must become a top priority.

With the ever-expanding presence of collective technology supporting what we call social networking, we must understand the challenges these sites and applications create in terms of protecting our sensitive information.

When we go home at night our brains do not forget all we do and see while on the job. Most people will engage in some kind of socializing and for some this takes place almost exclusively on the internet. When individuals engage in this type of socializing, regardless of medium, they still carry responsibility for the continued safeguarding of our sensitive information.

Social networking sites pose the security concerns of data collection, an audience which includes criminals and potential foreign intelligence specialists, and a virtually continuous growth cycle in both presence and availability. Contributing to these security concerns are users who possess and post sensitive information without realizing it, who trust unconditionally, and who fail to think like an adversary.

All the gates, guards and guns in the world can't protect information better than an educated, aware individual. Protecting information requires an understanding of what is sensitive, how an adversary views this same information, how information can be linked to other pieces of information to make an actionable plan and the threats and vulnerabilities we face while being in possession of sensitive information.

A recent quote I heard on the wilderness of Alaska can be applied to the improper use of the internet, specifically relating to sensitive information on social networking sites: "It is neither for you nor against you, but if you make a mistake out there, it will be unforgiving."

Practice OPSEC.