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FACTSHEET | Nov. 9, 2023

Cybersecurity for Army Family Members

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.
  • New computer viruses and Trojans that successfully target information on social networking sites are on the rise.
  • 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.
  • 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 Qaeda Handbook, terrorists search online for data about government personnel and all matters related to them, such as their residences, work places, times of leaving and returning, children, and places visited.

Daily social media interactions

  • Never accept a friend request from someone you don’t know, even if they are “a friend of a friend”.
  • Never share information on social media you don’t want to become public. If you aren’t comfortable placing the same information on a sign in your front yard, don’t put it online. Once you post something, you can’t control where it goes.
  • Be aware that you could be targeted based simply because of your connection to the military.
  • Providing too much information in your profile can expose you to identity thieves. Be cautious when listing job, military organization, education, and contact information.
  • When using social media, be cautious to not post personally identifiable information or any information about your Soldier’s job or mission that could damage Army operations.
  • Think about what you’re posting before hitting share. Many times you can avoid releasing sensitive information by simply rephrasing your posts.
  • Make it a point to understand how to use, adjust, and update the privacy settings on social media sites.

Social media concerns for Army families and Family Readiness Groups

  • Family Readiness Groups, Army spouses, and Army family members need to know that posting sensitive information can be detrimental to Soldier safety.
  • Always assume that our adversaries are reading every post made to a social media platform. Ensure that information posted online has no significant value to those adversaries.
  • Even seemingly innocent posts about a family member’s deployment or redeployment date can put them at risk. Small bits of information can be assembled to make big pictures.
  • The best way to protect kids online is to talk with them. Be honest and open and educate them early about online risks.

Some additional tips for staying safe

  • Adversaries prefer to go after easy targets. Keep your computer security up to date and make yourself a hard target.
  • Never log in from risky locations. Public networking sites may not offer secure login. If you log in from a hotel, cyber café, or public hotspot, your name and password can be captured at any time.
  • Do a search for yourself. If too much data comes up, you should consider adjusting your profile and settings on sites you use frequently.
  • Don’t trust add-ons: Plug-ins, games and apps are often written by users, not the sites they’re offered on. Malicious authors can easily gain access to your data once you install their programs.
  • Remember that search engines make it easy for adversaries to find what they’re interested in.
  • Use different, strong passwords for each online account, and never share your passwords.
  • Don’t depend on social media sites for confidentiality: Even social media sites that aren’t open and public 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.”
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