Sunday, November 7, 2010

This gets Personal

What is PERSEC? It is the little thing (not so little) related to OPSEC that noone really pays any attention to. Honestly, it's not something JUST military families need to focus on. [Per]sonal [Sec]urity is something that everyone should watch out for. You never quite know who's checking up on you.. or looking for a time when you're vulnerable to any sort of adversity.

PERSEC is merely protecting your arse, protecting your "Personal" information.

With Today's technology.. Nearly everyone in the world breaks PERSEC in some way. Facebook, I notice is the EASIEST way to target someone. You know your profile is never TRULY private right? ;)

There are not set rules for PERSEC.. It's common sense if you think about it. But who really wants to think about things that deep into detail? Honestly, I break PERSEC.. Every person I know, personally and in the virtual world has broke PERSEC. I have fun with talking about PERSEC.. I always tend to scare some people with what they didn't realize they were sharing with the world. Because of my knowledge of PERSEC, I was told by a lady who works with Missing children services that she could easily get me a job with them because of my knowledge of PERSEC and my ability to point out things.

Enough with that.. now it's time to get you thinking.. Hopefully anyway. ;)

I'm going to use Facebook as my example for PERSEC.
  • What is one thing that most everyone breaks on Facebook? Using your name. Not only do a lot of people Post their first and last names.. I see a lot of Middle names and Maiden names. 
  • You have a profile picture. Now I know what you look like... and I still know your full name ;)
  • I know who you're friends with.
  • You post your hometown, and your current city.. I know where you're from and a general Idea of where you're at.
  • You update your status to tell me where you are going.. where you've been, what you're doing, what you're going to do. I know when you're home. Now all I need is to figure out where you live to rob your house, or go to the place you're going to find you and follow you home. 
  • You post your phone number.
  • You talk about your job in your status, you tell information about your job in your info/job section. I now know who you work for, and it's not hard to figure out where when you've already given me so many other details.
*Keep in mind, Facebook is not as private as you think it is. And when you accepted the terms of service, you gave Facebook permission to sell and use in anyway any bit of information on your page.. this includes your pictures.  (I'll get to pictures here in a minute)
  • I can see the pages you like. I'm going to use a Navy wife as an example. Your husband is on a ship, you "Like" the ship's official facebook page. I now know that your husband is in the Navy.. oh yes, a military family. Perfect. You'd be surprised how many people in the US.. American born citizens that wouldn't mind collecting information on you and selling it to the "Enemy". Anyway, back on track- From you liking the ships page, I can find out where the ships home port is. Again, I have your general location. I know if your husband is home, underway or deployed. I know if you're alone (without your husband). From your FB, I know your name, what you look like, general location, your likes, your status updates, what ship you're affiliated with, what branch of military.. etc. You get the idea.
You want to know another extremely easy way to figure out something about a person, (other than by status updates posted by someone who posts everything they do and when they are doing it)? Your pictures. "How can you figure out things from pictures?" you may ask... Just listen  read on, I'll tell you ;)

For someone who is non military, or for military some of these apply to both.
  • How many people do you know post mobile uploads? You're at a concert.. you post pictures while you're at the show. I now know where you're at and that you're not home.
  • You get a new car, you post a picture of it. I know what you're driving now. Not to mention you just posted a status about your new car.
  • You get a new house, or a new place to rent. You take a picture of it. Most people fail to remember that their street address number is on their house... Now, I know you live in XYZ city and your address number is 123. We're narrowing it down now ;) Plus I know exactly what you look like, what your car is and looks like, what your house looks like.. hmm.. Common mistake with renters- posting pictures of the surrounding areas and amenities. Posting pics of the inside of your place. No big deal right? Not until someone comments and is interested in renting near you and you tell them the complex name.
  • You're new car was in the picture of your house.. Did you realize that your license plate is showing? Or in the picture you took of your new car.. Ding ding ding! I now can get your complete address if you're vehicle is registered in the state you're in. Either way.. I have an address that I can use to get to you.. whether by you directly or to your family back home ;)
I can keep going with that.. but you get the idea I hope. It's fairly easy smeazy. 

This is for military families- Photos and military PERSEC. This scared a friend of mine.
  • You or your SO posts pics from port.. while you're at port. I know your direct location. There's only so many ports, All you have to do is figure out the country.
  • You or your SO post a picture in Uniform. I'm going to use the the Navy dress uniform as an example. On your dress uniform, some wear a name tag, I now have your last name and I know what you look like. There's more. From that dress uniform, I know your command. I will then be able to find out if the family is alone and the sailor is deployed. I will know a general area for the family. From the uniform, I also know your rate and your rank. I know you're accomplishments from your ribbons and medals.
  • You post a picture of the person in Uniform armed up, gun in hand. I can use this to make the US and the Military look bad... not to mention the things I can do with photoshop using your picture. 
I can go on and on. All of this applies to all social networking and forums... anything that's put out there in cyber space.

Here is a simple, commonly done PERSEC violation: (pulled from MIL Spouse online)
Unsafe way to post:
Posted by:  CrystalLovesGreg:  “Hey girls, sorry I won’t be in the forums today.  My son, Mike (he’s six) is home with the flu.   We just got back from Portsmouth Naval Hospital where we waited for six hours at the ER.  My two girls were crazy!  Anyway, I hope he gets better in time for DH’s return next week.  We go back for a follow up Tuesday morning.  I’ll be back on tomorrow.

What a lurker has probably learned:  You’re a Navy wife, named Crystal, with three children: two girls, one boy, age six, named Michael.  You live in Hampton Roads and your husband, named Greg, is on a ship returning in less than seven days.  And, if I wanted to find you, I could simply hang out Tuesday at the Portsmouth Naval Hospital and wait for a woman with three children who fit this description.  Voila! 

Safe way to post:  “Hey girls, sorry I won’t be posting today.  I’m taking care of my children.  Talk to you tomorrow.”

How much information are you giving out?


  1. I'm guilty of it. Just not as bad as all the points you've expressed. I never give out my number, address, current city, or let people know that I'm leaving the house. I've seen some profiles where everything is laid out for all to see. It's crazy how there are sick people in the world who would use that to their advantage.

  2. Love, love, LOVE this post!!!! You know I'm right there with you when it comes to OPSEC and PERSEC. It's funny because until I started blogging, I didn't give a second thought to stuff like that while I played on FB. But then i started realizing: a) I was updating my status WAY too much with WAY too much personal info and b) I really didn't "know" all of my FB "friends." When I realized that, I de-friended about 100 people, deleted a ton of pictures, and pretty much made myself scarce and stopped accepting friend requests from people I don't quite remember even though we have 20 mutual friends.

    It always amazes me when I see FB friends' updates with where exactly they are (such and such restaurant in such and such city). Even though I blog anonymously, I still don't post anything about being out of town until after I've returned (well, I did blog from Jamaica, but that's only because I had family staying at my house).

    I think it's fantastic that you write so fervently about this topic because it's something EVERY blogger and FB user should be aware of, mil spouse or civilian. Good for you! Keep on keeping on my lovely friend. :)

  3. I like it. I break PERSEC but I like this post. Very informative!

  4. Absolutely LOVED this post! You hit the nail on the head with this one!!!! I know I have been guilty of this too! I totally admitt it. But this post really makes you stop and think about what your putting out there!

    Amazing job girlie!!!!!

  5. woooh buddy! Totally guilty of it! Awesome post and it REALLY does make you stop and think! Oh boy!

  6. just happened to stumble upon this post..two years later..and it rocks. I just wrote something very similar and got such nasty I got some great feedback too, but seriously people do not get it!!