During Cyber Security Awareness month, it makes sense to discuss how military members can keep themselves out of harms way while using social media sites. Serving in the active duty Navy, as well as working in the Emerging Media directorate of Defense Media Activity, I know a thing or two about how to use social media sites responsibly.
Each service provides its own guidelines for how to use sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and so many others. While each service’s guidelines may be different in several ways, the overall messages remains the same.
First, don’t share sensitive information! This may be a broad statement, so I will elaborate:
Everything you post online is potentially available to everyone else on the Internet in the world. This includes co-workers, criminals and enemies. Also, everything you post online can potentially remain there forever — networks store all kinds of data automatically, so some things you think you’ve erased forever could live on via a re-tweet, a copy/paste, or a saved archive in Google’s search cache. Ultimately, you are responsible for what you post, so use your best judgment and the guidelines set by your leadership. If you aren’t sure if you can post something, then ask someone in your chain of command.
Next, know what others are posting about you.
Just because it’s not your Myspace page that has photos showing you in a negative light, does not mean you can’t be punished for them. Discuss this with your friends and family and be sure to let them know what is and isn’t appropriate for them to post.
Furthermore, never post anything that is classified, sensitive but not classified or anything else that may come back to harm your service. Nobody wants to lose their job, or face punishment, because of a Facebook post or tweet. You also don’t want to become a security liability.
The Internet is not a personal playground for servicemembers to discuss topics that involve the military. What your unit, ship, battalion, or command is doing is not public business. This is sensitive information that should always remain “in house.” Remember, what you say could very well put yourself or others at risk.
Another thing to remember, too much information can be a bad thing.
While you may not have experienced it first hand, there are predators searching for information on the Internet in order to use it against you. Passwords, locations, account numbers, are types of information that you should refrain from ever posting anywhere. Not to your friends, family, co-workers or anyone else. Always verify e-mails that seem to be sent from banks, credit card companies or e-commerce sites like eBay, Amazon or Paypal — they’re often scams and fakes.
There are applications you can use that will pinpoint your location so that friends can see where you are — applications like Facebook places, Gowalla and Foursquare are becoming more and more popular. Well, if friends can see, than enemies can too, so use caution.
What you post is a representation of you, your family, your service, and your country. Always be mindful of the information that you have out there, because you never know who is viewing it.
To learn more about Cyber Security, visit the Defense.gov special page.