(Disclaimer: The satirical story has been created purely for humor and entertainment purposes.)
Operational security is paramount to the success of any military endeavor. As we’ve entered the era of the internet, however, loose lips that sank ships have turned into geo-tagged Snapchats, TikToks, Facebook posts and tweets — now known as Xs. It’s vital, according to every expert in the comment section of a military news article, that no one serving on active duty share anything at any time ever as it puts troops and national security at risk. When you are in the military, your personal security (PERSEC) choices are also a danger.
Therefore, the only real solution is to become a hermit once you sign your life away to Uncle Sam. Here are the best ways to practice OPSEC from a reclusive internet troll’s standpoint.
1. Get off the grid. Buy a cabin in the woods... in cash. Tell no one where it is.
2. Don’t bank. Stuff all your money in your mattress. Bury gold bars in the back yard. Just don’t forget to make yourself an encrypted treasure map so you know where to find it.
3. Chuck your cell phone into the sea. Cellular comms can be infiltrated at any time. Moreover, cell phone use is a gateway to downloading social media apps. Try a rotary phone.
4. Hide your face. There are cameras everywhere these days, including traffic lights. Try not to leave your house without a disguise. Consider investing in a floppy hat and some really big sunglasses so no one can recognize you. Ski masks are a no, however, as they may draw attention to you as a killer or a bank robber.
5. Encrypt your comms. When communicating with loved ones, preferably by mail, invent coded language (phrases, ciphers, keywords) only you and they know. Don’t use real names or ranks ever. Never enclose photos. Paste together letters made from magazine cutouts like a kidnapper so no one can connect you to your own handwriting.
6. Maintain an air of mystery. Don’t tell anyone what you do for a living. Being in the military should be a closely guarded secret. Say you “work for the government,” but don’t elaborate. Never speak of deployments — call them business trips instead. Don’t let your loved ones display yellow ribbons, ask for prayers at church, or put military bumper stickers on their cars.
7. Blend in. Keep a ghillie suit on hand at all times. Better yet, live in it. You’ll get used to the smell... eventually.
8. Be a recluse. The above are all good suggestions, however, the truest way to practice OPSEC is to be a total loner. Don’t have a family, never buy a car, grow your own food, and make your own clothes. Don’t engage with anyone, but if you have to, don’t tell them who you are. It’s mission critical.
Sarah Sicard is a Senior Editor with Military Times. She previously served as the Digitial Editor of Military Times and the Army Times Editor. Other work can be found at National Defense Magazine, Task & Purpose, and Defense News.