Take charge of your online identity

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Take charge of your online identity

by: Maj. Gen. Jeffrey S. Buchanan, JFHQ-NCR/MDW commanding general | .
U.S. Army | .
published: December 06, 2014

How would you feel if that photo you just posted on Facebook and Instagram was on the front page of the Washington Post? That tweet you just sent, what if it was the lead story on CNN this evening?

Social media is a part of our everyday lives. It's up to all of us to use it responsibly and protect our personal identifiable information, or PII, when using social media sites. As members of the Department of Defense, personal security is just as important as operational security. Posting personal information or allowing public access to any or all of this type of PII can put you, your family, your friends and battle buddies at risk.

As you know, the battlefield is always changing and as the U.S. military continues to adapt to its environment, so do our enemies. Today terrorist organizations, including ISIL, are using web-based and social media technology to attack our service members, their Families, and Civilian counterparts. Recently, the FBI and DHS recommend that current and former members of the military review their online social media accounts for any information that might serve to attract the attention of ISIL and its supporters. We need to take these threats seriously and better protect ourselves.

Social media security is not just about posting your personal information. Any time you post online from your computer or mobile device, assume ANYONE can see it. With every post you make from your living room, assume you're inviting the world in to sit on your sofa. When is the last time you updated your privacy settings? Every time you use at geo-location option or "geo-tagging", it can be tracked down to your exact location -- including your house. Do you personally know all your friends? What about their friends? How about your followers?

Recommended steps to improve your online security include:
• Changing account and security settings minimizing external access to your accounts
• Never post information or photos that contains your address, house or street signs, phone number, e-mail address, or license plate information
• Wait to post vacation/trip photos until after you return home
• Only "friend" people you know
• Apply all OPSEC rules to your social media communication
• Do not use "geo-tagging" apps and limit use of other apps as they normally sell your personal information to third parties

Attached are smart cards that explain best practices and instructions to adjust security settings to protect PII on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.

I encourage you to review your own social media accounts and ask that your family members do the same. Personal security and operational security go hand in hand; they are vital to our workforce and nation's security and it is everyone's responsibility to practice OPSEC.

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