With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, sometimes people forget about following common sense security practices. Operation Security (OPSEC) is the process used to identify and protect sensitive information from adversaries. While primarily used at work, this methodology can be used in protecting families and homes during the upcoming holiday season. OPSEC can deter our adversaries from identifying key information that might be used against us. Knowing this allows a person to take measures to safeguard that information.
When shopping, be aware when using ATMs or paying for items with credit cards. Make sure to put receipts in a safe place or destroy them properly. Also, be careful when entering your PIN to hide the keypad from the sight of others.
If carrying a large amount of cash, keep a portion of the money separate from your wallet in case you get pick pocketed or lose your wallet. If you purchased so many presents that you have to take a trip to the car and unload your packages to continue shopping, make sure you place the items in your trunk and out of sight. It is also smart to relocate your vehicle to another parking space in case someone followed you.
Trash can make you a target. Boxes from items like jewelry or electronics (such as computer, television, and stereo boxes) left curbside for trash collection provide good indicators to potential burglars about what high-value items are located in the house. Break down the boxes, throw them in a bag, or put them out just before trash collection time. You could also take the boxes to a recycling location.
OPSEC AT HOME
Things often become hectic around this time of year. Sometimes we completely forget about basic security. Be alert to public works crews and other workers requesting access to your residence or property. Verify their identity before allowing entry to your home. If you can, write down the license plate number of suspicious vehicles and note the description of suspicious individuals lurking in the neighborhood.
When socializing at parties, don't talk "shop" around those who do not have a need to know and be wary of attempts to elicit information, even from friends and family. Report any suspicious activity to the police or local law enforcement or your local security office.
OPSEC & TRAVEL
Do not forget to think OPSEC whenever traveling. First and foremost, you do not want to broadcast your travel plans over the Internet or social media. Criminals troll through pages hoping to find tips and clues on empty houses. Posts on social media sites about an upcoming vacation can be an invitation to someone looking to burglarize your home.
Be cautious about giving out information regarding travel plans to those who do not have a need to know. Leave your home with a lived-in look, using timers for lights, televisions or radios. Have a neighbor collect your mail and newspapers or place a temporary stop on your mail and newspaper delivery.
*Article source: Army Contracting Command, Deputy Chief of Staff Intelligence and Security G-2, November 25, 2014, https://www.army.mil/article/139011