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You can practice OPSEC in all daily activities by asking yourself one question prior to sharing in public: Could this information be useful to an adversary?
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OPSEC in the Information Age

Posted 3/7/2014   Updated 3/7/2014 Email story   Print story


by Jennifer Macklin
45th Space Wing Information Protection Office

3/7/2014 - PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- "The ability to share information in real time ... is a capability that is both an asset and a potential vulnerability to us, our allies and our adversaries." -Joint Publication 3-13, Information Operations.

In recent years, the explosion of social media has fundamentally changed the way we communicate. When I was in elementary school, I had a pen pal in another state. We exchanged handwritten letters on stationary and learned about each other's lives over the course of months.

Today many people communicate through multiple social networks in real time. It's not uncommon to read about "breaking news" over social media before a news outlet provides a report. In many ways this constant stream of information is a wonderful technological advance. The downside is people tend to over share or fill a perceived awkward silence with more information, some of which could be detrimental to mission accomplishment.

Airmen are entrusted to protect the 45th Space Wing mission, including the satellite systems that allow us to find the nearest coffee shop or check in at a favorite restaurant on smart phones (for the record, I don't recommend using location-based services to announce your whereabouts).

Using good Operations Security, or OPSEC, is easy once you're aware of how the process works.

Every unit has a Critical Information List (CIL) which describes types of information to protect. OPSEC information is generally unclassified and could be used by an adversary to exploit weaknesses.

Terrorists and other criminals are known to exploit vulnerabilities simply using open source research.

An estimated 80% of information is found through open source, meaning people freely share the information with the public. When something is posted in the web, the originator can't control the audience even if the information is intended for a certain demographic.

So what does this mean? You can practice OPSEC in all daily activities by asking yourself one question prior to sharing in public: Could this information be useful to an adversary?

If the answer is yes, you shouldn't share it. Practicing OPSEC at work by applying simple countermeasures such as encryption, destroying sensitive documents or deviating from established patterns greatly enhances the 45 SW's OPSEC posture.

As the wing OPSEC Program Manager, I incorporate OPSEC into my daily life by not revealing critical information on social media or talking about work in public places. If all 45 SW members -- military, civilian, contractors and family members--apply these concepts both professionally and personally, mission assurance is all but guaranteed!

Contact with any questions about OPSEC.

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