Social media: The new crime scene

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Rusty Frank
  • 52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
How many times have you checked your newsfeed today?

"The Internet is the crime scene of the future," said Cyrus Vance Jr., Manhattan District Attorney in October 2010.

Social media such as Facebook and Twitter can be a very useful tool, but in the wrong hands, it can be a very dangerous weapon.

Since social media like Facebook is open on the network, it opens the network up for potential malicious logic such as viruses. If one is not careful about clicking links and opening files posted by others, one does not know, according to the 52nd Communications Squadron wing information assurance office. Applications like games on social media sites also carry these potential vulnerabilities. Somebody stealing your identity is one of the ways that social media can be used against you.

Members of the Wing IA Office said to beware of using public computers to sign on to social media sites.

Never log on to social media sites on public access machines such as internet cafés; these machines could have key loggers that may compromise your login and your information according to the Wing IA Office.

Another reason social media has become very dangerous is it can jeopardize a military member's security.

Social media sites are a big operations concern, according to the Wing IA Office. It's really easy to make the mistake of posting unclassified pieces of information, which could potentially be pieced together with other information that indicates vulnerabilities to our adversaries.

According to the Child Welfare government website, social media can be a tool used against children. It can provide a way for adults to inappropriately interact with youths and children. The website also reported that one out of every six teens said that they have had online contacts that made them feel scared or uncomfortable. Child Welfare also warns against cyberbullying, when peers or strangers instigate mean or hurtful actions online.

But there are several ways to keep social media from becoming a weapon. One of those ways is to make sure not post too much about yourself online.

Do not put personal information online, even if you think your page is locked down, according to the Wing IA office. 

The Wing IA advised that the best thing would be to not talk about base events or missions on social media sites. If organizations have social media accounts, they have to make sure that they are going through their OPSEC coordinators to make sure what they are advertising does not violate operational security, including posting base maps, upcoming deployments and other secure information.

According to Federal Trade Commission website, there are many precautions people can take regarding social media:

1.) Be alert for impersonators. Always make sure who is receiving personal and financial information.

2.) Safely dispose of personal information. FTC's website suggests that before one destroys a computer, they should dispose of all personal information stored on the hard drive by using a utility wipe program.

3.) Encrypt data. Keep your browser secure.

4.) Don't "over share" on social networking sites. The FTC website warns not to post too much information about one's self on social media websites. Never post personal information like your full name, social security number, address, phone number and any account numbers.

5.) Keep devices secure by using security software, avoid e-mails sent by strangers, be wise about free WiFi, and lock up your laptop.

However, the wing IA Office said with all of these downfalls of social media, don't be afraid to use it.

"The emergence of social media sites makes the dissemination of information easier, making the world seem smaller by connecting friends and families," said the wing IAO.

If you have any questions about using social media safely, contact your unit IAO.