Keep Your Family Safe: Practice Operational Security on Social Media

Story Number: NNS100111-02Release Date: 1/11/2010 2:13:00 PM
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By Bruce Moody, Fleet and Family Support Program, Commander, Navy Installations Command

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Sailors and Navy families can prevent potential adversaries from discovering critical information on social media sites by practicing operational security.

Examples of critical information includes where a ship is going and when it is returning home or information about Sailors who deploy as individual augmentees.

Navy families, too, should remain vigilant in not volunteering any information that could unnecessarily put their Sailors in harm's way. Deployed and even day-to-day operations are in many cases classified, and those sharing information with each loved ones or friends should recognize the importance of keeping sensitive information secure.

"Family members are vital to the success of the Navy," Shauna Turner, manager of the Deployment Support Program at the Fleet and Family Support Program, said. "But, potential adversaries also understand this."

It is not unprecedented for spouses and family members of U.S. military personnel to be targeted for intelligence collection. This is true in the United States and especially true overseas.

Navy family members all know some bits of critical information. It may not be classified, and it may even seem insignificant. But, to the potential adversary, it is a piece of the puzzle. The power of emerging media tools is a two-edged sword: It makes information exceptionally accessible when posted - for anyone who is interested, including potential adversaries.

When communicating on social media sites do not post the following information:
- Exact deployment dates or return dates. This applies to ships, subs, squadrons and individual augmentees.
- Dates or location of a ship's upcoming ports of call.
- Detailed information about a mission.
- References to trends in crew's morale or an individual's personal problems.
- Details concerning security procedures, response times or tactics.
- Information about equipment readiness.
- Speculations about future operations.

"The main rule is to simply use common sense," Turner said. "Think before you post. Anything you post on social media, including photos, is instantly available around the world. When in doubt, don't post it."

Social media sites allow Sailors and Navy families to keep in contact like never before. It is a wonderful way to feel close to someone who is far away. Sailors and Navy families are encouraged to enjoy the connection that social media offers while practicing operational security and keeping mindful of the risks presented with the widespread dissemination of information.

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