‘Protect what’s ours’ is focus of 2024 OPSEC Awareness Month

By Eric KowalJanuary 10, 2024

(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. - January’s National Operations Security (OPSEC) Awareness Month provides an opportunity for individuals to assess how they are protecting their personal information and how they can use OPSEC principles to reduce personal risk or risk to their families.

OPSEC Awareness Month also underscores government requirements that support the establishment, implementation, and standardization of OPSEC programs. The monthly observation focuses on policy and procedures governing the protection of sensitive and unclassified information. It also presents an opportunity for government agencies, public and private-sector entities, and individuals to consider ways to mitigate the various vulnerabilities, risks, and threats to their organizations.

Protecting critical and sensitive information is essential to protecting the success of our missions, and to protecting the lives of U.S. service members, DOD employees, contractors, and family members.

OPSEC is everyone’s responsibility.

It is the responsibility of every member to contribute to a culture of OPSEC excellence. By staying vigilant and being proactive, we enhance our collective ability to protect the mission and the safety of our personnel.

This year’s OPSEC Awareness Month theme is ‘protect what’s ours’ or ‘protect critical information,’ the core purpose of OPSEC.

Local organizations develop OPSEC orders, directives, and policies to identify what needs protecting. Check with your organization’s OPSEC officer or security manager if you are unfamiliar with those documents because the unauthorized release of critical or sensitive information can have punitive consequences.

“The concept of protecting ‘critical’ and ‘sensitive’ information is stressed in the Army’s OPSEC program, however many personnel do not understand what that tangibly means,” said Joseph Daigler, OPSEC and Security Manager for U.S. Army Garrison Picatinny Arsenal. “When we refer to ‘critical information’, what we are really talking about is protecting the information identified in your organization’s Critical Information List (CIL). If you don’t have a copy of your organization’s CIL, reach out to your OPSEC Officer who can provide it to you. It is imperative that everyone knows the specific information your organization needs to protect to ensure your mission succeeds.”

Establishing an OPSEC mindset during daily activities is an important step in protecting private information.

Adversaries can compromise commonly used tools and applications, such as emails, texts, direct messaging, and social media to gain access to private information. Exercise caution when receiving unsolicited messages (including texts, emails, direct messages, chats, etc.), particularly if they come from unknown senders or contain suspicious links or attachments.

Adding encryption to messages and emails, verifying where and from whom a message is coming from, and exercising caution before downloading files and clicking on links, are ways to prevent an adversary from gaining access to private information.

As always, practice good OPSEC to minimize risk to you, your family, and the people in your organization.

To learn more search for OPSEC in the Joint Knowledge Online course catalog at https://jkodirect.jten.mil.