Social Networking And The New Threat Environment
Blogs and social networking sites are great ways for military people to share stories and reconnect with old friends, but we have to realize our enemies use the 'net as well. Check out this story from Navy Times:
Jihadist threats online against U.S. warships in the Middle East have spiked since just before the New Year, according to a monitoring group in Washington, including some of the most ambitious calls yet for terror attacks specifically on the Navy and sailors.More posts about this can be found here and here. Granted, a lot of that information can be gleaned from the Navy's own official press releases, but things like the names of crewmembers and their families and future port visit information are most likely to come from people posting on blogs and Facebook pages. The MCPON has some good guidance on how to deal with OPSEC in a new age; excerpt:
One Dec. 30 post, translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute, calls for readers to assemble and submit information about American ships and their crews in chilling detail:
“Information on every U.S. naval unit — and only U.S. [units]! — should be quietly gathered [as follows:] [The vessel’s] name, the missions it is assigned; its current location …; the advantages of this naval unit; the number of U.S. troops on board, including if possible their ranks, and what state they are from, their family situation, and where their family members (wife and children) live; what kind of weapons they carry; the [vessel’s] destination …; the missions it has carried out; the way to monitor it around the clock; if its location is changed, define its movements and its route; monitor every Web site used by the personnel on these ships, and attempt to discover what is in these contacts.”
The writer, whose handle is “Ubada bin Al-Samit” and who posted on a Web forum called Al-Falluja, assured readers every item would be useful:
“My Muslim brothers, do not underestimate the importance of any piece of information, as simple as it may seem; the mujahideen, the lions of monotheism, may be able to use it in ways that have not occurred to you.”
There are threats, though, that he believes are real and potentially very dangerous. "Anyone who thinks our enemies don't monitor what our Sailors, families and commands are doing via the Internet and social media had better open their eyes," said West. "These sites are great for networking, getting the word out and talking about some of our most important family readiness issues, but our Sailors and their loved ones have to be careful with what they say and what they reveal about themselves, their familes or their commands."Which brings us to how to handle things like commenting on blogs like this one. I normally don't post anything that hasn't appeared in the media yet, but I have to be aware that this is a good aggregation site for a jihadi who might not have good internet search skills. (Of course, I'm aware that it's not just jihadis who are interested in submarines -- the Chinese, Russians, and Iranians might be getting useful insights from here as well.)
West said the Navy family needs to avoid discussing information about their units, such as location, schedules and specific missions or assets.
"That's standard OPSEC," said West. "But we're not talking about 'loose lips sinking ships' anymore, it's more than that. Our enemies are advanced and as technologically savvy as they've ever been. They're looking for personal information about our Sailors, our families and our day-to-day activities as well as ways to turn that information into maritime threats."