When deployed we say “complacency kills”, while that may be a little extreme of a statement for our civilian lives it can still apply. What I mean is, never lose sight that there are creeps and bad guys out there willing to do you and/or your family harm.
Even on deployment, depending on where you are, there’s the simple criminal threat and not just the terrorist threat. You must stay cognizant of what’s going on around you and how you’re conducting your business. This is just one facet of the much broader topic that is “Situational Awareness”.
Since I recently just saw the picture above posted about stickers on vehicles, I’ll start there. As you can see in the picture, every little detail you give out can be exploited. I’ll take it further than that, even supporting your favorite team can be exploited. I’ve done exercises where I was able to get information out of people easily just by doing a little research and pretending to be a big fan of their favorite team they proudly display on their vehicle. This doesn’t mean go rip your stickers off, it just means you need to be aware. Magnets fall under the same rules. If you’ve been around a military post very long you’ve probably seen a “half my heart is in ….” magnet or sticker. So it would be too easy for you to be followed home and know where there’s a house that’s possibly vulnerable.
What do you gain from advertising this?
Facebook is another great tool for criminals. If you don’t have your page protected I can see where you “check in” and that way I know you’re not home, therefore it’s free game on your stuff. Even worse are some of the exercising apps that will track you as you run and let others see where you’re running live. You’re basically laying out a road map for a criminal to come nab you.
Remember, I’m writing the “worst-case” scenarios here. It doesn’t mean you need to change your entire lifestyle, but just be aware. What’s the risk versus reward of your actions? If you check in at your favorite steak house on Facebook, who really cares and why does it really matter? What does it matter that you have little stick figures of your family stuck to your back glass? What’s the point? Is it worth someone now knowing how many kids you have?
Below are some pictures I've taken around the base I'm stationed at and present when I teach a class on Force Protection. I've blacked out pertinent information to protect these individuals even though they didn't protect themselves. In each of these I talked to these people or their Chain of Command since I had plenty of info to easily find them to ask that they think about better safeguarding their information.
Here are some medical documents left in plain view in a vehicle.
Plenty here to exploit.
ID card left right on the dash as if displayed on purpose. Not only do I have his full name and rank,
but I know what team he likes and where he's from. Easy in to exploit him.
What's shown here is a unit's (unnecessary) form to fill out in addition to a
leave form. Now I know this guy's home address, the address he's going on leave
and when he'll be there. Left displayed right on his car seat. Oh yea...and his full social.
I could have loans and credit cards in a heartbeat, not to mention the knowledge of
when would be best to rob his house.
I could go on and on and write a book on this topic, but I'll keep this short for the sake of the blog. Just be aware of what you're leaving laying around. Don't take for granted that you're on a military base or wherever it may be and you think it should be "safe" there. Trust no one. Especially with identity theft being so popular, you need to safeguard your information. Identity theft could be your best case scenario if you compromise yourself. Worst case could be death.