When you hear “OPSEC” (Operational Security), you likely think of U.S. military and security-cleared personnel whose day-to-day work requires a high degree of secrecy. These folks generally are hyper-aware of security and are trained to keep anything sensitive strictly “need-to-know”. But basic OPSEC procedures can help anyone stay safe. Employing these simple tactics is especially important now, since internet crime affects everyone—netting over $1 trillion last year.
OPSEC can involve the protection of all kinds of important basic information: your date of birth, Social Security number, mobile phone, email accounts and passwords. In addition to that, however, OPSEC is about protecting other vital details you might not have thought about: your IP addresses, your language, your writing style, your personal traits, and other elements of your identity. These elements and more can unfortunately be readily collected (or stolen) via so many sites, services, apps, and platforms.
Everyone should be concerned with protecting themselves from those looking to expose and exploit these crucial pieces of personal data.
What’s the Threat For Me?
All kinds of people have valuable data that can be exposed and leveraged. You may be an attorney, a medical professional, an executive, or a judge or justice. You may be in entertainment, an elite athlete, a law enforcement or security professional, or you may manage and oversee financial portfolios. Regardless of your particular profession, you have more at stake than most people.
In recent years, you’ve no doubt become more aware of the need for basic practices that ensure security and strengthen privacy. But even the most privacy-conscious person can have their information collected or stolen. Using legal research methods, or by illegally gaining access to accounts, it can take someone just a few hours online to gather all the crucial information listed above, but also such vital nuggets as location, mother’s maiden name, relatives, financial details, social media profiles, employment, and more.
Once accounts have been compromised or essential personal details uncovered, identity, reputation, and financial footing can be dismantled quite quickly. Researchers are finding, however, that not all online crime aims to quickly destroy someone or empty their accounts. Rather, more are employing a “breadcrumb approach,” whereby small but pivotal details are accumulated over time, helping to prepare for a larger coordinated attack.
How Can You Reduce Exposure Through OPSEC?
If you have higher-than-normal concerns about individuals attempting to damage your privacy and gain access to your personal information, there are simple steps you can take to dramatically improve your OPSEC, your operational security:
Remove Your Personal Details From People Finder Sites: Finding and opting-out from the huge number of online directories that harvest, expose, and share your personal details can be painstaking and difficult. There are services that can offer some peace of mind by removing you from a handful of these sites once, or a few times per year. If you believe you need more protection, TRACE-X can help.
Sign up today, or learn more about how we remove you from over 100 people finder sites, year-round.
Be Careful of The Information You Share: Before you sit down at the computer to enlist help from support forums, engage in social media arguments, or sign up for new services, think to yourself: Will this information provide someone with the breadcrumbs they need to follow me or my company’s trail? How else might I achieve this goal without sharing personal details and threatening my privacy?
Sometimes, simply holding back from unnecessary communication online can be a huge advantage for prevention of identity theft and other threats.
Use A Password Manager: Use a password manager to generate unique strong passwords for each account. This way, if one of your accounts is compromised, the threat will not be able to then take down your entire operation, or the reputations, livelihoods, and finances of your family members. In addition, setting up two-factor authentication on all of your sensitive accounts is a must.
Frequently Analyze Your Risk: Instead of always focusing on “external threat vectors,” it’s important to periodically evaluate areas of your business and personal life (including your communication channels, your assets, your leisure activities, and more) with an eye to which pieces of information could be stolen or exposed. Some questions to ask yourself include:
- Which pieces of personal information are stored where? Is there a way do decrease the risk of exposure for anything sensitive?
- What (additional) steps can I take to prevent a breach of my personal data?
- What steps can I take if my personal information is accessed in the event of a breach?
- For the personal information I’ve entrusted with a third-party: is that data secured and encrypted?
- Who currently has access to my sensitive data? Do they actually require it? If not, how can I ensure they remove it?
- Who has accessed my sensitive data in the past that could still be retaining a copy? Can that copy be deleted?
By pursuing these steps on a regular basis, you can strengthen your OPSEC like a pro. In addition, TRACE-X provides you with an added layer of security, without you having to sweat the details. Sign up today.