Threats on social media highlight need for strategy

| September 14, 2017 | 0 Comments

Soldiers and family members are facing the growing need to protect themselves from cyberthreats on social media, according to top Army leadership. Tools such as the U.S. Army Social Media Handbook can help Soldiers and their families navigate the complex world of cybersecurity. (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock)

Nathan Van Schaik
U.S. Army Garrison Grafenwoehr

GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — Soldiers and family members are facing the growing need to protect themselves from cyber threats on social media, according to top leadership, here.

A Soldier within the U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria footprint recently received messages on a private Facebook page deemed by investigators as malicious and aggressive.

“Potential foreign adversaries are using social media to make threats toward service members,” said Adam Troxel, lead special agent with the 66th Military Intelligence Brigade.

The threatening messages on Facebook underscore the need to grow awareness about social media as part of the cyberspace domain – potentially exploitable by online predators and adversaries.

The U.S. Army Operating Concept – which presents a vision of how future Army forces will operate in an unknowable and constantly changing environment – acknowledges that state and non-state actors have used social media to influence perceptions and provide cover for large-scale military operations. The concept also explains that “social media amplifies and accelerates interaction between people, governments, militaries and threats.”

But, to date, social media remains largely outside the scope of Army doctrine. That leaves the responsibility on social media users – 83 percent of Americans have a social media account, according to the U.S. Army Social Media Handbook – to protect themselves within the cyber domain.

Leaders here are now calling on service members, DOD employees and families to take a more strategic and proactive role in social media.

“The future operational environment is not only unknown, but unknowable and constantly changing,” said Brig. Gen. Tony Aguto, commander of 7th Army Training Command. “It’s time we acknowledge social media as an extension of cyberspace within our complex world.”

As social media continues to evolve, so too has the number of online predators. While only a few years ago cyber security implied protecting personal information online, today cyber security translates into a more proactive role.

“As members of the U.S. military deployed oversees, we need to approach social media in the cyber domain the way we might approach any dangerous and unfamiliar territory: Be smart and keep a low profile,” said USAG Bavaria Garrison Commander Col. Lance Varney.

Now more than ever, Soldiers and their families need to step up their game in protecting their online identities – from tightening security settings on Facebook to ensuring nametags are not in view in photographs shared online.

“Question legitimacy of unsolicited online traffic and don’t leave your personal details open to unfamiliar eyes,” Aguto said. “Open source intel collection is real, and as U.S. personnel, we shouldn’t make it easy for adversaries to target, collect or intimidate.

“Together we can increase Army readiness overseas and on the battlefield through social media vigilance,” Aguto continued. “Soldiers, families and civilians all play a role in our cyber mission force readiness.”

Points of Contact
If you or someone you know is in receipt of threatening or malicious social media messages, you can submit an online report at iSa lute (https://www.inscom.army.mil/isalute/).

If you live on U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii, contact Counterintelligence at 787-6937 or the CID at 655-1989.

To learn more about how to protect you and your family on social media, visit the Army’s Social Media Handbook at www.army.mil/socialmedia or the Army Cyber Command’s cyber security awareness fact sheets at http://arcyber.army.mil/Pages/FactSheets.aspx.

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