Peter Suciu | clearancejobs.com »
Social media has changed the way that the conflict in Ukraine is being seen around the world, and it has allowed those on the frontlines to share videos and images. In addition, the mobile devices that most people around the world increasingly carry on a daily basis may have also played a role in allowing Ukrainian soldiers to track, target, and even take out high-ranking Russian officers.
While no Russian general has been killed because he was tracked on social media, there remains a very valid concern that soldiers can tend to “over share” and provide “too much information.” The U.S. military has raised concerns and banned devices and apps that can track a user’s location from military bases.
“The advent of social media has created a whole other realm of over-sharing, tracking, and personal opinion narrative that can affect servicemembers’ careers and impact future endeavors and possible backlash around unpopular topics,” warned Domnick Eger, field chief technical officer (CTO) at Anjuna Security.
“Their security may also affect our nation and the critical systems they may be working with daily,” Eger told ClearanceJobs. “The threat to their livelihood and own personal safety is a significant burden they must shoulder, unlike the private industry.”
It’s also important to remember that whatever you post on the social platforms could be used in nefarious ways.
“It’s a good idea to ask: do I need to share this,” said Chloé Messdaghi, chief impact officer at cybersecurity researcher firm Cybrary.
“Service members must be aware of everything you post and have good device, platform and network security practices,” added Messdaghi. “One example of each of these might be, for example, requiring device logons that expire quickly when the device is inactive, keep your social media accounts private and be sure you know who you’re accepting and sharing content with, and don’t use public Wi-Fi without a VPN.”
LACK OF CENSORS
During the Second World War, nearly every single letter or correspondence between service members and families at home was censored by officials to ensure that no useful information would fall into enemy hands should the mail be intercepted. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was also in the mail-monitoring business, and director J. Edgar Hoover authorized his agents – working in cooperation with the Post Office Department – to quietly go through the personal mail of select groups.
Censorship of both military and civilian mail was even deemed necessary to prevent the dissemination of sensitive information across enemy lines. Trained civilians, as well as military officers, opened, screened, and, if necessary blackened or cut away questionable portions of the written communications.
Today, it is a very different world. Social media provides a plethora of communication channels that are impossible to be monitored. At the same time, it allows for nearly instant and continuous connectivity around the world.
“Service members can use social media to help them keep in contact with friends and family and should avoid anything outside these realms,” added Eger.
USING SOCIAL MEDIA WISELY
Social media can be an extremely important way for service members to remain in contact with loved ones back home, and this is especially true for those deployed to distant postings. However, experts recommend it is used wisely.
“Avoiding online political discourse, turning off tracking, and not giving more than rudimentary information are a few things service members can use to help protect themselves,” suggested Eger. “These can all play a critical role in helping themselves in the current and future if someone was brought up or used in an investigation.”
Service members should be especially vigilant when using any social media platform.
“Don’t share personal information or personal details about you that can be harvested by thieves and other criminals,” Saryu Nayyar, CEO and founder of cybersecurity research firm Gurucul, told ClearanceJobs.
“Be careful when uploading photos so that your location is kept private – no landmarks or visible location identifiers,” she added. “Beware of impersonators – only connect with people you know legitimately. Keep your accounts private so only your connections can see your posts.”
Moreover, old posts on social media have also impacted careers, and not typically in a good way.
“Many employers can and do look for social posts, and the same is certainly true in the military,” Messdaghi told ClearanceJobs. “In the private sector, people have been removed from their jobs due to innocent photos that don’t necessarily appear innocent. This is particularly important for active duty service members as they must remain in conformance with the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) whether on or off duty, and cannot be perceived as, for example, criticizing a superior.”
WHAT ABOUT NETWORKING?
The vast majority of concerns are what servicemembers are posting on TikTok – the social media app that the military has already banned from all government devices – but there are also issues with what is being shared on Facebook, Instagram and even Twitter.
Then there is LinkedIn, which usually doesn’t get called out for being a platform where “over-sharing” and other privacy concerns are an issue. In fact, many users would argue it is a crucial platform for networking, and that using it can help advance one’s career.
“Linkedin allows all types of businesses and their employees to share and communicate to a more professional level without your traditional social media issues,” said Eger. “For service members, this can be critical in linking with outside companies that may be interested in their services.”
Yet, it is not without its own risks.
The danger is that it can lead to exposure of classified information around projects, Eger warned.
“It may lead to a situation where military justice has to deal with a security breach by sharing confidential project names,” Eger continued. “External actors can use this to go after and target phishing campaigns to help get into sensitive environments and give more information that may not be known to the public.”
In this way information that is provided on LinkedIn can help hackers, criminals and other bad actors paint a better picture of an individual. What one shares on social media provides details that can make it easier for those bad actors to strike.
“All social media platforms expose individuals to social engineering threats, including LinkedIn. Criminals can use anything you post as context to socially engineer you to take action,” suggested Nayyar. “They know what content resonates with you and can send you specific ads or messages with links to assets of interest to you – trying to get you to click on a malicious link that will install malware or ask you for personally identifiable information. Attackers also create bogus profiles, pretending to be experts or celebrities to get you to similarly take action.”
The Biggest Threat to the Military
External Link: The Biggest Threat to the Military May Not Be What You Think