Tuesday, October 6, 2015

ISIS Threatens Military Members: Lessen You Footprint

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, be careful what you post, what you say on a phone, and even what stickers you put on your car. I’m not saying to let terrorists win and cower in your basement corner, on the contrary, lock and load!
I am no longer active duty military but I’ve worked on Federal Installations my entire life. Is ISIS looking for me or my family? Probably not. But I don’t want to give anyone any room or reason to target me or my family.
But there is a problem that most Americans are oblivious of. That problem is that there are wackos and evil people out there, right here in our beloved USA, that would like to die a martyr. My counsel has been a low profile, operations security (OPSEC) and communications security (COMSEC). OPSEC is what you do and how you do it. COMSEC is being careful about what you email, post, log into, and write for all the world to see.
I’ve told this story before but it bears repeating. I was sitting at a light with my teen-aged son in the car. I told him to look at the car in front of us. I told him what I could tell from that vehicle. I could tell religious preference, whether they likely owned a gun, how many people there were in their family, and what political preference they were. All from the back of their vehicle! What can someone tell about you from your Facebook page? Another story that I’ve told.
I was looking at Facebook today. I look at it a couple times a week. I saw a picture from the adult daughter of one of our dear, old friends. She took a picture of her little boy on his first day of pre-K.
He stood on the porch steps of their home holding a sign that had his first name, his grade, etc. I looked at the pic thinking as I do about security. I know our friend’s daughter and we are “friends” on Facebook. I mentioned to my wife that the picture gave away too much. Beside this cute little boy was a big address number. I now knew the boy’s first name, his address number, and from his Mom’s page, the boy’s last name. And of course, what he looks like. I said this just in passing to my wife. She texted our friend and mentioned this fact to the boy’s Grandmother. Our friend texted this to her daughter (who lives in another state). The daughter blew it off as just something you don’t need to worry about.
She said it’s because we’re friends on Facebook that we can see so much. We then asked our daughter who is not friends with the boy’s Mom on Facebook, to see what info she could find. Our daughter found out what state they lived in, and through other pictures on the Mom’s page, found out what town they lived in, and more important, a phone number. With that phone number she was able to get a complete address. With a little more searching she found out that there are only 3 pre-K schools in that town. She looked through the Facebook page of the Mom and found several “Likes” on a particular school. She looked through the Facebook page of that school and found teachers pictures. Comparing pictures of the boy going into school with his teacher, and the schools Facebook page pictures, my daughter determined what school the boy went to, and the hours of that school. So between Google and Facebook my daughter, who is not friends with any of this family, found the boy’s full address, the number of kids living in that address, where the boy goes to school, his teachers name, and when the school gets out. She even found out the Mom’s husbands name, and where he works. All in a matter of 30 to 40 minutes. All this information came cold from what could have been a random Facebook page.

This story is a little scary to me. Even though I was watching this happen, it was all in fun. But if a pedophile or a terrorist who is intent on harming this family wanted to, the information is there.
I beg of you, please make lessen your internet foot print. Take off pictures. Take down posts. Change the way you communicate. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest do not have your safety and security in mind. They are there to make money and they are not too interested in you as a person. I don’t think any social media is evil, but we have to be smart in using it. Just because it’s fun doesn’t mean it’s not dangerous. Some people think they have anonymity online. You do not. There is a country song by Brad Paisley that talks about being better looking online. Some of the lyrics go:
I'm a sci-fi fanatic
Mild asthmatic
Never been to 2nd base
But there's a whole another me
That you need to see
Go check out Myspace
I'm so much cooler online
So much cooler online
The song is funny because it is true. But that anonymity is short lived when someone online can get your phone number and address.
Stay safe. Think about what you do and what you post. Don’t become a target.
Semper Paratus
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