OPSEC and social media savvy

  • Published
  • By Brig.Gen. Glen VanHerck
  • 509th Bomb Wing commander
Many of you may have seen in the news this past weekend that ISIS released a list containing the names, addresses, and photos of 100 current U.S. service members. 

The members who are on the list have already been contacted by their assigned units and they and their families are receiving support from both military and law enforcement agencies. Here at Whiteman we are working in coordination with local law enforcement officials as we do on a constant basis to help deter and to combat any potential threats to our teammates and the installation.   
The list, which contains the names of several AFGSC members, was compiled with the respective addresses and photos based off of information ISIS obtained through social media sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn.  As such I highly encourage you all to review your current online footprint, particularly in regards to social media sites. 

Furthermore, I encourage you all to talk to your families about OPSEC and how we all need to be careful about what we post online.  Remember, just because you are acting smartly in terms of OPSEC doesn't mean your parents or even your children are.  There are real threats out there, and it is important that we do what we can do mitigate our exposure. 

One way you can reduce your online footprint and that of your family is by removing your last name from your Facebook page - this is a quick and easy step that can help reduce your visibility to people you don't know.  Also, below are some more easy steps you can take to help ensure your security online. 

o Understand your privacy settings.  Go look at the current privacy settings you have established on the social media sites you use and remember that the safest setting for any site is "only friends". 

o Don't friend people you don't know.  It sounds simple but think about how many people you may be friends with online that you don't really know.  If you don't know them, then why are you linked in with them? 

o Limit the use of applications.  Applications can be a great help, but they can also be a liability.  For example, a past study revealed that many of Facebook's most popular applications were transmitting personal user information to outside servers.

o Protect your location.  It is important that you do not "check in" and let the world know where you are, particularly at home, your friends' houses, or at work.

o Don't overshare.  The internet doesn't forget anything - and nothing really gets deleted - so be careful about what you share.  It is much easier to just not share something than it is to get that information back once it has been broadcasted in cyberspace. 

As always force protection is a primary concern.  It is important that we all remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to base security forces or the local police.  I want you all to know that we will continue to monitor this situation very closely and that we have taken extra steps to ensure the safety and security of Team Whiteman.

Thanks for all you and your families do.