The US Navy recently issued a statement updating its World War II era “Loose lips sink ships” slogan for one more relevant to the social media age, cautioning it sailors and pilots that “Loose tweets destroy fleets.”
“Social media can be a useful tool to stay connected to friends, family, and quick entertainment,” the statement reads. “However, there is sometimes a fine line between letting your friends see what you’re up to and providing an adversary critical information about your connection to the military and its mission.”
The statement highlights the operational security risks of social media. An errant tweet can give away the location of US personnel or installations, or unwittingly telegraph troop movements or deployments to the enemy. The statement addresses another specific risk as well, that public posts about military operations can open up units to attacks from ISIS sympathizers and lone wolves.
“It’s vital to check your security settings in your social media accounts to make sure that just your friends are able to see what you post and remember to be smart about what you post and share,” said captian Jonathan McDonald in the statement.
The US military may already have a worrying social media vulnerability. The Navy’s statements comes a few months after a group claiming to be the “Islamic State Hacking Division” posted the names, addresses, and photos of 100 US armed forces members. The group claimed to gain this information through a sophisticated cyber security breach. But the Pentagon later revealed that the data was publicly available through Google searches and social media profiles.
US forces connected to the fight against ISIS are now operating out of Turkey, where the Islamic State has recently been waging attacks. There’s now an even greater need to prevent any operations-related information from making it onto social media.
The Navy’s operational security concerns aren’t limited to social media. The Navy’s statement reminded personnel that all means of communication should now be secure: “go secure whenever possible, use a secure phone line, encrypt your email and make sure that you are shredding all paper including any notes on post-its.”
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