Wednesday, May 20, 2015

OPSEC- Loose Lips Sink Ships

Life in the Military is... secretive. 

Or at least, it's SUPPOSED to be! Not everyone grasps that concept: Including Military Spouses. 
Instead, spouses are quick to share sensitive information, especially when they are sad or lonely. 

On social media sites you'll see a status update of something that resembles this:

"I'm dreading Steve leaving in 3 days. Sometimes, I hate the military"
"Dropping Steve off in San Diego. So thankful we were able to see him board"
"YAY! I just heard from Steve! Hopefully he'll pick me up a nice purse while he's in Italy! #amore"
"My heart will be home in 2 days! Time to clean the house and shave these hairy legs!"

Spouses, may I blatantly tell you: SHUT THE EFF UP!

Is it to seek attention from your other friends so they can support you? 
If so, tell them in person or call them (without giving out too many details) but do it privately; NOT blast it for the world to know!
Is it because you're proud and you want everyone to know the sacrifices your family is making? hint: Heroes don't ask to be put on a pedestal. 

Let me introduce you to my friends: OPSEC, PERSEC and COMSEC

  • Don't discuss future destinations or ports of call
  • Don't discuss future operations or missions
  • Don't discuss dates and times of when they will be in port or conducting exercises
  • Don't discuss readiness issues and numbers
  • Don't discuss specific training equipment
  • Don't discuss people's names and billets in conjunction with operations
  • Don't speculate about future operations
  • Don't spread rumors about operations
  • Don't assume the enemy is not trying to collect information on you so he can kill you, he is
  • Be smart, use your head, and always think OPSEC and COMSEC when using email or phone
For Social Media: 
  • Don't check-in on sites such as Facebook, Four-square, Instagram, etc. 
  • Don't list your specific job or your spouse's specific job.
  • DO NOT use a picture of your spouse in uniform as your profile picture or banner
  • Don't update everyone when your spouse leaves or is in the process of coming home. 
  • Don't ask for prayers when your spouse is in "work mode" or in a "dangerous area". (psssst Downtown LA doesn't count as hostile duty.)
  • Don't post pictures of your spouse in uniform with other information available (such as ship name).
  • NEVER EVER use a count-down or count-up timer. EVER.
  • Don't tag other people in status' or photographs that relay ANY of this information mentioned above.
It's funny, smart phones have become too smart for the average user. They are collecting TONS of sensitive information and the user blindly goes along with it. 
It's scary as hell
Make sure your computer is protected (and I don't mean with a dust cover over it) and your smart phone doesn't have unknown apps or unnecessary access to your personal information. We all like to candy crush, but it doesn't need to post to other peoples pages. Know what I'm sayin'?
Assume that you have stalkers!  Even if it's the spouse in the command that you can't stand who is constantly trying to figure out what you're up to. Assume that SOMEONE is looking at your "private" public stuff. Cuz you know they are. Haters. 
Operations SecurityProtecting critical information about military movement or operations.
If you're posting that your spouse leaves in 2 days and that you're dropping him off in San Diego and you're Facebook friends with every other spouse in the command, what do you think a stranger can figure out from that information?

The puzzle pieces begin to fit together to form the big picture: This stalker now has a ships roster, pictures of people in uniform (GET THOSE UNIFORMS OFF YOUR PROFILE PICS!) and if things aren't set to private then what? I can follow your friend's posts/photographs and keep collecting valuable information. 

The Ten OPSEC and COMSEC Points:
Take an interactive quiz about OPSEC here:

What is PERSEC? 

Personal Security: It's that information that isn't part of Military Operations but could put you in a dangerous situation (and can add viable information that could lead to OPSEC).

Do you have stickers on the back of your vehicle? Do you have any "proud Navy wife" or "1/2 my heart is in Iraq"? Do you have a cute little stick figure family? what about one that resembles this? 
If you have this on your car, I will personally kick your ass. 

This is known as a pedophile menu. It's especially effective if you have a sticker of where your child attends school. Bonus points if you list names or any extracurricular activities. TOO MUCH INFORMATION. Tell your kids you're proud; don't shout it to the world. 

What is COMSEC?
Communications Security: Measures taken to prevent cricital or sensitive information from unauthorized  persons information from devices such as computer, telephone or smart phone. 

Ever heard of Metadata? Your phone has, and so has the enemy. 
It's the data that lists the location of where your status updates are done or where photos are taken. 
It gives longitude and latitude coordinates and guess what? Google can show them EXACTLY where you are. 


Act like a "normal" civilian family. A lack of big announcements or news will not attract attention. I know this is heartbreaking as we all want to SHOUT FROM THE ROOFTOPS THAT WE LOVE OUR MILITARY MEMBERS but that kind of attention is also attracting the wrong kind of attention: from the enemy. 

Diary of a Military spouse: working vs stay-at-home

Working wife:
Day 1 hectic but satisfying 
Day 145: I took a sick day to be home by myself
Day 289: what is this "fun" thing they keep talking about? I'm drowning in chores and a constant work load
Day 568: ALL I WANT IS A STAY-CATION! But I know all I'll end up doing is laundry and cleaning the house. 

Stay at home:
Day 1: stayed in my pajamas
Day 145: I took a sick day but the kids just laughed at me and asked for lunch
Day 289: I did all the housework and decided we could have a little fun. However, there's still 5 days left until payday so it has to be "free" kind of fun. Like the playground or water sprinkler.