GRAFENWOEHR, Germany -- These days we can't go a moment or move a step without immediate access to some form of social media, but that kind of access can also impact operational security.

If there is a single breach in security, it could cost lives. Practicing poor safety with our security and that of our friends and family may not be something we consider.

"Being part of a military community, words, actions and patterns matter," said Rick Biddle, U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria operation specialist and OPSEC officer.

Always remember as a Soldier, Department of Defense civilian or family member, you are a desired target for attacks. Being hacked by cybercriminals or monitored by spies sounds dramatic, but the threat is real.

"Limit the length of the message and the content. When communicating, we often say more than we realize," Biddle said.

Make sure that the medium chosen to communicate is secure. Complacency and apathy toward scams in social engineering, phishing and fake accounts are just some examples that lax security leads to poor security.

"Put security boundaries on who can see what is posted; ensure only the people you allow to view your information can," said Biddle.

Your audience is made up of a wide spectrum. Determine whether you want your comments to be public, or tailored to a specific audience. Friends or followers may request access simply to know your next move, but anyone can be monitoring their actions as well. Understand that only you can limit what you say to your friends, family and followers.

"A precaution is to limit who your online comments go to by only sharing information with people you actually know. One gaping hole in social media security is 'tagging' people in posts and photos. This widens the audience," said Biddle.

While at times sharing information seems harmless, a predator could use this information to pose a true threat to you or your military family.

When using new gadgets, remember various applications and sites routinely use location data automatically. A way to mask your location is to check your settings and ensure the "geolocation" options are switched to off.

Another form of information gathering is the use of cookies. Although they appear to be harmless, any form of information gathering puts you and your information at risk.

According to www.whatarecookies.com, "Cookies are small files which are stored on a user's computer designed to hold a limited amount of data specific to a particular client and website." Cookies can be accessed either by the web server or the client computer, allowing the server to deliver a page tailored to a particular user.

In this day and age of data theft and misuse of information, use caution. "Think before posting. Be vigilant and always practice operational security," said Biddle.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has a website that assists with cybersecurity awareness at www.us-cert.gov/ncas/tips. Be proactive against threats and be watchful for any suspicious activity.

The U.S. Army Europe's iWatch program is designed to help keep communities safe. It supports the community's awareness of terrorist or criminal activity by reported actions. You can find it at www.ireport.eur.army.mil.

Practice OPSEC while online, on the phone, or while spending leisure time in social settings -- because the adversary could be watching and listening to every word.