The Family Unit

The Security of Military Families and Social Media

Recently the Director General Defence Security issued a pamphlet titled, Five Things You Should Never Do On Facebook, followed shortly after by CANFORGEN 022/15 Guidance on Social Media and Other Internet Communications – Personal Security.

In today’s political climate the entire Defence Team, including Canadian military families should be aware of the inherent risks involved in making certain types of information available to a wide audience using the internet, and of the measures recommended to minimize, if not prevent such risks.

“Most of us post tons of intimate details about our lives that we normally wouldn’t share with anyone. We think as long as we make sure our privacy settings are set correctly we are safe,” said Ashley Lemire, media liaison representative, ADM(PA).

In the Five Things You Should Never Do On Facebook pamphlet posting a birthdate, or the birthdate of family members, is listed as the first thing NOT to do on Facebook, as this information can be used to perpetrate identity theft.

The pamphlet also advises keeping ‘relationship status’ sections blank. Tagging photos and offering a current location is not recommended, particularly while away on vacation, or on a house-hunting trip (HHT). Not only does this information reveal  to the public a current home is vacant but may inadvertently reveal where the family is going to be posted.

“The problem is that we never know who is looking at our information. Our account could have been hacked following the downloading of malicious software, or an unknown individual could be using a friend’s account because they forgot to log out,” noted Lemire.

Finally, the pamphlet recommends the removal of children’s names from Facebook. This may include taking down tagged photos. If a friend is tagged in a picture with your child, you have lost control of that photo.  The pamphlet acknowledges taking names off, and eliminating tags may be a daunting task. However, the Director of Defence Security (DGDS) recommends, beginning the task now and work at it a little each day.

CANFORGEN 022/15 more specifically addresses the personal security of CAF members and their families stating, ‘personal security is ‘paramount.’

According to the CANFORGEN,“It is incumbent upon everyone to consider the potential for creating risk to themselves, their families, their peers and the mission by publishing to the internet personal or professional information to imagery, either individually or in combination with other information, may provide expert analysts with insights that can be used to conduct social engineering attacks on CAF members and DND Employees, exploit possible avenues to compromise our network, and negatively impact both operational and personal security.”

The CANFORGEN also clearly states it is not the intent of the DGDS to restrict the use of the internet. The Defence Team is entitled to communicate with friends, family and colleagues, however, particularly in the Theatre of Operations the Chain of Command has authority to restrict access to the internet in the interest of operational security.
Please visit the Director General of Defence Security website for further information on internet safety.

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Vicki L Morrison

Thanks to her husband's military career Vicki reinvented herself as a writer so she could work from home, while taking care of their three kids. A former MFRC executive director Vicki is a passionate advocate for military families who loves telling their stories.

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