Most of us have been there, once or thrice. Your crazy ex has gone postal on your social media accounts. Most of the time you can jam out to “It wasn’t me,” louder than they can post, “What is love? Baby don’t hurt, don’t hurt me – no more.” Albeit, crazy has no caliber and the next thing you know, they’ve hacked your accounts and are telling your friends, in your name, that you’re engaged. There is only one option at that point – nuke’em all.
The fad of screwing with your ex online may have affected the command staff of U.S. Army Europe, and this is where it is good to be the general. After all, who else can suit up, order an official video production that they do not nor ever have had a social media account? Sorry baby, our relationship has been disavowed.
Ok, maybe there wasn’t an ex, and the general was actually the legitimate target of one of the many other digital scourges of the internet. Thanks in part to a completely gullible public and global audience of internet users who refuse to read beyond the header or the title of anything online – “I read it on the internet, it must be true!”
The worst part about this situation is that the general had to release an announcement via social media. – to tell people that he is not on social media. The video statement ended in contradiction or some 25th-tier guerrilla marketing campaign, as the video message fades out; a message encourages you to follow, U.S. Army Europe on – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Flickr, and YouTube. Wait, what?
Here is the official release,
The need to hire pretty girls to sit around bars and play pawns in the great game is not always as effective as Ivan at his keyboard in Siberia; with 50 fake accounts from dignitaries, military officials, and sexy dames who are writing what you want to read. Ivan isn’t a door-kicker either, but his work often results in mission-critical dangers from door-kicker to diplomat.
Granted that digital threats are typically not SOFREP sexy – which is weird, as digital is the largest global security threat and the site is accessed online . . . But, yeah, I get it – people like to reference the physical action. Even so, everyone should be checking their digital six. I often check mine, for instance, the system that I’m this article on is running so much misdirection and paranoia software that my computer is registering as Porn Hub on the Mars Rover with constant complex character password updates – sorry about the lag, NASA.
That’s cool right, I’m safe. No, not really. Someone can always bypass your security, but that is not even the real danger. The threats reside in operator error; be it clickbait, believing someone is who they claim to be simply because their profile or email name says that is who they are, or by downloading adware and/or malware. Avoiding these traps, honestly takes seconds; just ask yourself, is the source legit? Then proceed with caution.
Pirates of the Cyber-Seas,
Avast ye mateys – internet privacy has entered the big leagues and I’m not talking about that 60 Minutes episodes you watched with your Grandmother on Craiglist killers and Nigeran email scammers. Those moments of mainstream media fear factor have been overshadowed by real threats. Albeit, the emergence of digital impersonation and fraud has not died but multiplied more dangerously and faster than a hybrid Bebe Kid – Gremlin – Tribble. Unfortunately, I do not have the video production staff to create a primetime television special that will scare-ducate you into registering this threat as real.
Nevertheless, you should take this digital threat extremely seriously. The dragnets are being cast by foreign intelligence services, corporate espionage agents, astroturfing AKA ‘grassroots’ political organizations, criminals and so on. The bad guys are out there and are running multiple operations with a whole host of goals.
I’ve covered some of this before, but hopefully the sexier title has pulled a few more people to spot check themselves on a very real and subversive threat.
If you connect with a fake account, you risk exposing sensitive personal details. Foreign intelligence and illicit organizations are actively seeking out your sensitive details and want to map your network, collect pictures, phone numbers, email addresses, and information about where you live, work and play. Currently, Chinese and Russian spies are said to be the primary users of this methodology. Although additional governments and criminals have adapted this approach for their own nefarious means.
U.S. Army Europe’s Chief of Staff, Brigadier General Markus Laubenthal, in his digital performance, is referencing a threat that has been highly successful and tremendously deployed. The tactic is used by foreign intelligence services who are seeking to discredit their targets, distribute propaganda, or gather information. Fraudsters use them to solicit funds and steal your sensitive data – or ransomware your device.
Be skeptical of the connections you make while engaging on social media, or via email. If you have never met the person in question before, you are under no obligation to converse with them simply because they sent you a request. Use your best judgment and remember that it will not hurt to spend a little time, do some research and vet someone that you do not really know. That simple time investment may make the difference between letting the enemy know what type of cat photos you like, where you live, and who you know – or it will keep them in the dark, and at a distance.
Dark Ages Mentality, 21st Century Fight,
Nevertheless, this latest ‘counter-attack’ attempt at digital piracy by the Army is just a continued policy failure. The Army, as well as the breadth and depth of the DoD, has taken an ostrich with its head in the ground stance on digital and social media. If anything the Pentagon continues to prove that, ‘They don’t do computers good.”
The military is guilty of acting like the Catholic Church during the Dark Ages when it comes to embracing digital and social media. Essentially everything that is not approved is heresy, those who contradict policy shall be burned at the stake in public, and the company line is in a language the parishioners don’t fully understand. The manual is chained to the pulpit and only the holy-elite can gaze upon it and read it aloud to us, and in their own devices. New ideas are considered witchcraft and those who submit them will be made to repent.
Since the advent of the internet, the DoD has pretended that it can function solely on its own network. Yet that failed, and in most government facilities you can access the regular or NIPRNet (Non-classified Internet Protocol Router Network), or use the DoD network, the SIPRNet (Secret Internet Protocol Router Network).
Albeit that is as far as the military has budged, and the NIPRNet has become increasingly-insanely prohibitive. A measure that is entirely ineffective since nearly everyone has the internet in the pocket. I can also think of more than a few people who have even walked into alleged electronic free secured zones, or SCIF (Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility,) with their device, phone, and/or tablet on throughout their time in the facility – to no avail.
Regardless the DoD has created a few carefully curated official social media pages, but they’re extremely bland and that mayonnaise sandwich atmosphere has encouraged people to look elsewhere for information. Just as well, the policies behind social media pages for military personnel, especially those in command is fragmented. The official policies for social media and the military is a vicious system that is designed with a bewildering regulation structure, which is seeking out people who have [mis]used social media to make case examples out of them. For now and the foreseeable future, the DoD is clueless as to what social media is, and the only way to defeat that threat it creates is to own it.
That is, and along the lines of the square per in the round hole thinking of the DoD – simply encourage all leaders to have an official profile.
There may be a PowerPoint slide or two around the DoD that suggests similar points, but they were expectedly overlooked, misunderstood – or more likely presented to a room of people who pretended to know what it meant. Like most briefings, there is more head nodding than understanding.
After all, if there is an official profile that normal people can check, in lieu of the current protocol. The art of scavenging through a broken structural catalog of non-indexing DoD sites on rules and regulations – where the old rules and new rules are posted as the same current policy. Exactly how is a civilian supposed to navigate that mess or even properly access it?
Regardless, if leaders had official profiles posted and the DoD offered more easily accessible general answers for the public – many of the digital deceptions listed in this article could be easily avoided.
Such a change, would regrettably, be contracted out, cost a few billion dollars, take years to implement and of course never work. I’m not certain how many of you have every had to navigate a DoD database website for work, research, or training but the structure is the most inane, backward, and multilayered shit storm since 1990s AOL.
I suppose it’s not all bad, though, that is if you’re on Tinder; where unregulated and DoD uncharted territory is being used by subversive military recruiters – Hollar at your local recruiter!
Featured Media – USAREUR