During August, the Army observes Antiterrorism Awareness Month—the annual call to action for Soldiers, Army civilians, retirees and Family members to recognize the dangers posed by terrorism and to be prepared to help combat terrorism.

Perhaps the most active and pernicious “battlefields” in today’s global climate is cyberspace, and the fact the world is so comprehensively connected through the internet indicates the critical need for safeguards to protect national security and our own privacy and interests.

Social networking can be dangerous     

According to the National Security Agency, social networking sites promote social behavior and encourage users to share information and inherently trust the information from those they are connected to within the network. In fact, social networking sites can present an operations security risk to military units and a direct risk to people. When information is posted onto a social networking site, it should no longer be considered private. 

The basics 

Individual social media users can help minimize these threats, said Mark Aaron, U.S. Army Cyber Command antiterrorism officer. 

 “Basic cyber security doesn’t have to take a great deal of effort,” Aaron said. “Always use antivirus software, network firewalls and wireless router passwords. And, disconnect from the internet when not in use. Back up your computer regularly; restrict access to its accounts; delete email from unknown sources; and use hard-to-guess passwords and keep them private. Never provide personal information like Social Security or credit card numbers, birth dates, etc., with non-secure and unfamiliar web sites.”

Did you know?    

“A family’s posts to keep friends up-to-date on their vacation led to their home being burglarized while they were away,” Aaron said. “New computer viruses and Trojans that successfully target information on social networking sites are on the rise, and information on social networking sites has led to people losing job offers, getting fired, and even being arrested.

Social networking sites have become a haven for identity thieves and con artists trying to use your information against you; and several kidnapping, rape and murder cases have been linked to social networking sites, where the victims first connected with their attackers. According to the al-Qaida handbook, terrorists search online for data about government personnel and all matters related to them.

“Adversaries prefer easy targets. Keep your computer security up-to-date and make yourself a hard target,” Aaron added. “Never log in from risky public locations and don’t depend on social media sites for confidentiality: Even social media sites that aren’t publicly open by design can become so due to hacking, security errors and poor data-management practices. In some cases, a site’s terms of service explicitly gives the site ownership of all your posted content. Treat links and files carefully. Social engineers and hackers often post links in comments that try to trick people into downloading an update, security patch, or game.”

These are just a few precautions to keep our online activities secure. For more tips on keeping yourself, your family and your work associates safe while using social media, visit https://www.nsa.gov/ia/files/factsheets/I73-021R-2009.pdf

Antiterrorism Resources

Office of the Provost Marshal General, Antiterrorism Division:

∝James Crumley, 703-614-3741, james.crumley.civ@mail.mil 

∝Michael Britton, 703-695-3403, michael.a.britton.civ@mail.mil