Several times a year, the Daesh ‘ISIS’ “Cyber Caliphate” releases a “kill list” with the names of law enforcement officers, firefighters, military personnel and other individuals who represent the strength and resiliency of America.

The intent, as its title implies, is to eliminate those people through any means available – gun, knife, baseball bat, bomb or running over them with a vehicle. If that’s not frightening enough, the list also includes addresses, places of employment and other personally identifiable information that could lead a potential killer to someone’s front door.

The terrorist organization claims it hacked DoD networks to obtain the data, but it’s fairly obvious much of the information came from social media. That’s right, individuals who are becoming targeted victims handed the required details over to the individuals calling for the attacks. Quite surreal, but tragically true.

In an effort to counter this threat, force protection experts across the DoD continue the push for social media discipline. “It has become a mainstay of the ongoing anti-terrorism awareness campaign,” noted a representative from the Protection Office – Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization, and Security at Fort Lee.

“We’re urging all members of our community – particularly military personnel, government workers, and their families – to use caution whenever they’re online to avoid attracting attention to themselves or inadvertently providing easily accessible information that could be turned into targeting data,” the DPTMS representative said. “Social media is the apex of vulnerability. ISIS and other criminal entities are mining that information and using it to instigate attacks and carry out identity theft and other illegal activities.”

State and federal law enforcement and intelligence analysts concur with that assessment. Experts have long-observed the false sense of anonymity and security that tends to exist among internet and computer network users. While online, most people don’t exercise the same level of caution they would when meeting someone in person.

“Even a single instance of dropping your guard and providing information without careful consideration can make you vulnerable,” the DPTMS representative said. “As we say often in our business, ‘once it’s posted, it’s public.’ Even closed groups and password-protected sites are capable of being hacked. So, the message is simple … think about the information before hitting the ‘send’ button.”

The Protection Office recommends using the information found at the following websites to assess one’s social media and internet safety:

Staying Safe on Social Networking Sites

Keeping Children Safe Online

Configuring Facebook for a more Secure Social Networking Experience

Configuring Twitter for a more Secure Social Networking Experience 

Configuring Google+ for a more Secure Professional Networking Experience

Other tips to protect yourself and your family include the following:

• Limit personal information including ranks, full names, street addresses, schedules and routine activities. Be aware of the content in photos as well. Elements typically overlooked include house numbers, vehicles and license plate numbers, and work locations that indicate affiliation with important individuals or high-value targets.

• Remember, the internet is a public resource. Only post information you are comfortable with anyone seeing. For more details.

Know Your Enemy: Daesh, the Islamic State (Pt. 1)

Read Next: Know Your Enemy: Daesh, the Islamic State (Pt. 1)

• Be wary of strangers. The internet makes it easy for people to misrepresent their identities and motives. For more details.

• Be skeptical. Don’t believe everything you read online. People may post false or misleading information about various topics, including their own identities.

• Evaluate your settings. Take advantage of a site’s privacy features. The default setting for some sites may allow anyone to see your profile, but you can customize it to restrict access. Review the privacy settings regularly to make sure the choices are still appropriate or have not been reset.

• Be wary of third-party applications that may provide entertainment or functionality. Fully understand the purpose of cookies, Active-X controls, multimedia players and convenient control applications before clicking “OK” to download.

• Use strong passwords that cannot easily be guessed. A combination of symbols, numbers, and upper and lower case letters is usually the best option. Do not use birth dates or family names.

• Check privacy policies. Some sites share email addresses or user preferences with other companies.

• Keep software, particularly your web browser, up-to-date. Many operating systems offer automatic updates. If this option is available, it’s a good idea to enable it.

• Use and maintain anti-virus software. It not only helps protect your computer against known viruses, but usually give you a tool to routinely scan downloaded and stored files so viruses can be detected and removed before they cause harm.

The final tip is to protect children who are especially susceptible to the threats social networking sites present. Although many sites have age restrictions, children may misrepresent their ages so they can join. By teaching children about internet safety, being aware of their online habits, and guiding them to appropriate sites, parents can make sure children become safe and responsible users. For more tips.

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