December 22, 2017

Operational security especially important during holidays

Dennis Morris
Nellis AFB, Nev.

Holiday vacation time is upon us, and many of us will be leaving the area.

With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, sometimes we forget about common sense security practices.

It is important to remember to practice good family Operational Security (OPSEC). What does OPSEC have to do with the holidays? OPSEC is the process we use to identify and protect sensitive information from our adversaries. While we primarily use this process at work, we can apply the same method to protecting our families and our homes.

Protecting your family’s information during the holidays is easier than you think. Following are ways you can make it difficult for an adversary to obtain the information they need.

When shopping, put your credit cards away after each use. Don’t put it in your pocket; it makes it easier to steal, and it could also fall out. Don’t make a purchase over the phone within earshot of strangers. Make sure to put receipts in a safe place or destroy them properly. Always lock your car and close the windows, when possible lock all merchandise in the trunk of your car.

Holiday trash outside your house can also make you a target. Boxes left curbside for trash collection provide indicators to potential burglars about what high-value items are located in the household. Break down the boxes, throw the boxes in a black trash bag or put them on the curb just before trash collection times.

When socializing at parties over the holidays, don’t talk shop around those who don’t have a need to know and be wary of any attempts to elicit information.

If traveling this holiday season, keep plans off social media sites. Avoid posting specific travel plans and never post when, where or how long you will be gone. Wait until you return to tell the world about your vacation and post pictures. Remember, when you post “I am here” social media notes … you are telling people where you are not.

Also when traveling, use concealed luggage tags and refrain from using military duffel bags, or bags with government patches or logos. Don’t use your rank or title to reserve airline tickets and hotel rooms, and keep a low profile in dress and demeanor. If checking into a hotel that requires you to show your military ID, ensure it is not photocopied. You may present your ID for verification purposes; however, federal law prohibits photocopying of U.S. government ID Cards. (Medical needs are an exception).

Finally, try to leave your home with a “lived in” look. Use timers for lights or the TV. Have a neighbor or friend check on your house, and collect your mail, newspapers and holiday deliveries.

Following these simple OPSEC 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 holiday vacation.

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