What is your social footprint?

Link to the official U.S. Coast Guard page on Facebook.

Written by Lt. Cmdr. Darwin Jensen.

How can Coast Guard employees take personal responsibility for connecting safely on the go, while still taking advantage of the convenience of mobile devices?

What is at the top of the list every gift-giving holiday?
At my house it is a mobile device with some kind of internet or App that connects my family to the world. This is great for keeping in touch with family and friends but not so good if the things that they post or share endangers them or our family.

What is your social footprint?
Several years ago I was participating in a security review at the Sector and I was being interviewed by one of the auditors on OPSEC at the unit. One of the major themes of the interview was my use of Social Media. I wanted to know what my family’s “social footprint” was, so I challenged him to go on the internet and find out what he could about me and see if there were any security violations. He went on the internet and to my surprise he was only able to find general information about me and my family and no security violations. Although I would not recommend having Coast Guard IT professionals looking us up; it was good to get an outside perspective on what me and my family were posting on the internet and how that information could be viewed from someone outside our family.

Social media websites
Social media tip on Facebook privacy settings.
A couple of years ago, I signed up as a member of a social media website that linked business professionals. Within six months of joining this social media website it was hacked and my personal information, including my password, was compromised. Unfortunately at the time I was using the same password for all my social media sites. Consequently, the hackers gained access to all my other social media internet sites and started gathering information and posting through those sites. Once I was notified of what had happened I changed my passwords and stop the hackers, but it wasn’t until after the hackers had accessed my accounts to view my posted information.

Protect your privacy online with these social media tips:
• Never accept the “default” settings for sites. Personally go through your settings and select the appropriate level of protection for you, your family and the Coast Guard.

• Don’t share details about yourself, your family members or others online including social security numbers, birthdates, contact information, home addresses, details about lifestyles or careers, and any other personally identifiable information.

Link to the U.S. Coast Guard Social Media Handbook.

• Cautiously use location-based social networking (e.g. geotagging, FourSquare, “checking in”) as this provides specific details about your daily habits to the public including adversaries. Never use these services when deployed or underway or you could compromise OPSEC.

• Do not “friend” or grant access to people you do not know and trust. Regularly, screen your friends and remove those you are not close to.

• The line between personal and professional boundaries can blur easily online. If you decide to add colleagues or professional contacts to your networks, consider adding them to a special list or group and limit/protect what you share with that list/group.

• Be aware that nothing is really ever private online. What is posted on the web can easily be shared, taken out of context or used maliciously.

• Use strong passwords to protect your accounts. It is suggested to have 14+ characters including a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols.

For more tips on the safe and responsible use of social media download the U.S. Coast Guard Social Media Handbook.

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