Holiday season OPSEC

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — Holiday vacation time is upon us once again 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.
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 family and our homes during the upcoming holiday season.
Protecting your family’s information during the holidays is easier than you think. Below 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:
• 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 someone else.
• 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 from items like jewelry or electronics (such as computer and television boxes) left curbside for trash collection provide good indicators to potential burglars about what high-value items are located in the household. Break down the boxes, throw them in a bag or put them out just before trash collection times.
• When socializing at parties over the holidays, don’t talk shopping 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 your plans off of social media sites such as Facebook, Google+ and Twitter. Although you may be excited to take a break from Las Vegas, the entire world doesn’t need to know about it. Avoid posting specific travel plans and never post when, where, or how long you’ll be gone. Wait until you return to tell the world about your vacation and then post your pictures. Remember, when you post “I am here” social media notes you are telling people where you aren’t.
• Also when traveling, refrain from using military duffel bags or bags with government patches or logos and use concealed luggage tags. 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/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 (medical needs are an exception).
• Don’t forget about your house or apartment. Try to leave your home with a “lived in” look. Use timers for lights, TV or radio. Have a neighbor or friend check on your house, and collect your mail and holiday deliveries. Have them watch for papers or other flyers.
Following these simple OPSEC steps will allow you to protect the information that means the most to you and your family and will help you to have a safe and enjoyable holiday vacation.

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