Commentary

May 11, 2012

Vacation OPSEC

Protecting your family’s critical information

by Ryan Finnegan
95th ABW, OPSEC program manager

Vacation and permanent change of station time is quickly drawling upon us once again.

As the weather warms up and kids are getting ready to get out of school, many of us will be leaving the area, some for good.

With that being said, it is important to remember to practice good family Operational Security. While most of us associate OPSEC with protecting critical and sensitive military information, it is just as important you establish and safeguard your family’s private and sensitive information.

Although there is no real family critical information list, here are a few suggestions to begin thinking about what is important to your family: Vacation dates, times, locations; is anyone watching the house?; where you’ll be staying on vacation. This is key information that criminals need to take advantage of your possessions while you are away.

Protecting your family’s information is easier than you think. There are a couple of quick and easy steps you can take that will make it hard for an adversary to obtain the information they need.

First step is to decide who has a “need to know.” Discuss the pertinent details of your trip with only those people. These could range from family members, closest friend, work supervisors and anyone who is watching your house while you are gone.

Second, and probably most important, is keep your travel plans off of social media sites such as Facebook, Google+ and Twitter. Although you may be excited to take a break from the High Desert, the entire world doesn’t need to know about it. It is not difficult for a criminal to stumble across your post that you will be gone for two weeks; then when you “check-in” from the airport their clock starts ticking. Wait until you return to tell the world you had the most wonderful vacation and then post your pictures.

Lastly, remember you are on vacation and try to enjoy it. Leave your work at work. If you must work on a project, or take a work phone call, do so in private. Never work on a sensitive project in the open or where others can see what you are working on – you never know who is watching.

While checking into a hotel that requires you to show your Military ID/Common Access Card, ensure it is not photocopied. You may present your ID for verification purposes, however, federal law prohibits photocopying of U.S. Government Identification Cards. This is to preserve the integrity of these forms of identification.

Following these simple steps will allow you to protect the information that means most to you and your family and will help you to have a safe and enjoyable vacation.

 




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