Last week we talked about the first part of this OPSEC process, and why it’s so important to really sit down and look at your information to determine what is critical and what isn’t. Today we’ll discuss the second part of that process: analyzing the threat.
Who Wants Your Info?
Another way of phrasing Step 2 of the OPSEC process is simply asking who wants the information you have deemed to be critical. As you’re probably figuring out already, there are multiple answers to that question, and each specific threat may be targeting a different facet of your critical information, both online and offline. Here’s just a basic, partial list of potential threats:
- Scammers – They want anything that can help them carry out their scams. That could include your phone number/email address (avenues of contact), and those avenues offer them the platform to go after what they really want: your bank account info, credit card number, Paypal info, etc.
- Identity Thieves – In order to be you, they need to know a bit about you. Your mother’s maiden name, first pet, favorite color, street you grew up on, etc. If those also look like the type of thing you see in a million different Facebook quizzes, by the way, that’s because those quizzes are used to collect this type of information from you.
- Local Criminals – You might not have thought about this one, but many a burglary or home invasion has been planned based on information collected from an overheard conversation or a homeowner who was a bit too excited about his new _________ in his home. This also covers opportunistic thieves who will do a snatch-and-grab of whatever you left in your vehicle, etc. Think about what’s recognizable through your car windows right now–how much information do those items tell someone about you?
- Shady Non-Preppers – As we talked about last week, if you’re preparing yourself and your family for possible worst-case experiences, you’re going to be aware of people within your circle (or peripheral to it) who are not only NOT preparing, but have every intention of showing up on your doorstep if something goes wrong. This group could include close friends and even family, so set your emotional connections aside here. It’s imperative that you’re brutally honest with yourself about who and what.
- Government Entities – Like it or not, government officials, agents, and instruments want your information. If you’re reading this site, you probably already know that–although you may not be aware of the extent they’re willing to go to in order to get it. If you’re one of those folks who still thinks it’s no big deal, then you might as well close your browser window now. Don’t bother reading on.
- Marketing Firms/Retail Companies – This also includes data firms, that collect your data and sell it to the highest bidder.
You might have more things to add to this list, but this will work as a starter. By the way, for those of you who want to scream about Constitutional rights and the 4th Amendment, let me point out that if the government purchases the data from a private company (or funds/starts/backs the “private” company itself), it’s not a violation of the 4th Amendment because you gave that company the information–or somewhere along the line, you clicked OK on an agreement with an account/company/website somewhere that said they sell or provide your information to third parties. It could be five companies down the line, but eventually your information ends up in everyone’s hands–including the government, who very well may have propped up the company you signed up with anyway.
Once you’ve made a list of who wants the information, you’ll want to expand your thinking to a few more things, and these questions should be answered for each adversary specifically, because while there will be some overlap, there will also be points specific to each one as well. You want to ensure you’ve covered this thoroughly.
- Why do they want it? What will they do with it?
- How capable are they of getting it? What resources do they have available to them?
- What do they already have on you?
If you’ve done this step correctly (and you did the first step, laying out what your critical information is), then you’ll have a pretty decent idea of where you’re at, and what you’re up against. You’re probably also going to feel a bit overwhelmed–and possibly angry. That’s okay. Next week you’ll start thinking like the enemy.