Thoughts from the OPSEC Manager….

Thoughts from the OPSEC manager… what is OPSEC and how do you protect yourself?

Operations Security, or OPSEC, is the process of determining what information is critical to you and taking steps to protect that information from unwanted observation or collection. While formal OPSEC programs often exist in organizations, the ideas and practices can be applied in our personal lives to protect ourselves from harm. Think of this as Personal OPSEC.

To identify your personal critical info, simply think of those things that you would not give to a stranger or want publicly known. Some common examples are bank account info, passwords or login credentials, PII, private communications, medical information, travel plans, the fact that you sing karaoke in a neighboring town on Tuesday nights, etc.

Would you be upset if certain info about you were lost or stolen? If so, that’s your critical info!

Once you have identified your personal critical info, you can start to think of places where that information exists, ways that someone could get that information, and how they may use it to harm you. Your critical info may exist in many places – some examples are:

  • Papers and documents that you store in your home or office
  • On your home computer(s), tablet(s), cell phone(s), etc.
  • Scattered across your social media sites (think of what info can be aggregated from them)
  • On local government sites: schools, municipalities, tax assessors, court documents, etc.
  • In the minds of your family, friends, and neighbors
  • Embedded in photos you share online
  • Online via google searches or data aggregator sites

If you would be upset if your info was lost or stolen — take steps to protect it!

Finally, consider the countermeasures you can put in place to reduce the risk of your information being used against you. Some common countermeasures to consider are:

  • Talk to your families about what your critical info is and how to protect it
  • Shred all unneeded documents with critical info on them
  • Share your info only with people you trust, and know will also protect it
  • Encrypt your home wireless network and use a strong password
  • Don’t share information over open WIFI networks (coffee shops, airports, etc.)
  • Only input your info on websites that you know and trust
  • Don’t click links or open attachments in email – you could be opening the door for malicious software

After you have taken the steps above, the only thing that remains to do is to periodically reassess your critical info and make changes to your countermeasures as needed. Congratulations – you just increased your personal OPSEC!

About Tech. Sgt. Mary Greenwood

I'm a military member, a graphic designer, a wife, and a mother. I joined the 115th Fighter Wing in 2009 as an Aerospace Propulsion Mechanic. I loved fixing engines and working with a unique group of Airmen that I developed close relationships with but once I became pregnant in 2016 I was unable to continue working around the materials and chemicals until I was completely done nursing and I knew I wanted more children so a career change was my best option. In November of 2017 I made the difficult choice to move to Public Affairs, little did I know I was gaining another family. I married my high school sweetheart in 2012 after 6 years of dating and together we made the decision to join the military, He enlisted the year prior to my high school graduation along with my brother and his own. I earned my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point in 2016 and have never regretted my degree choice. I love what I do and I am grateful for all the opportunities and experiences life has given me.