Preparedness has a basic foundation in taking responsibility for your own actions. That means that you’re not dependent on others for shelter, food, safety, protection, and other amenities. Within prepping, the concept of going ‘gray’ or attempting to remain in the background and not stand out is part of safety and protection.
The world is full of acronyms.
Prepping is no exception. In this topic, we’re going to revisit the generalized subject of Personal Security (PERSEC) and the related sub-categories that fall under that main subject. We will also review the Gray Man Concept that was discussed here:
There were a lot of generalizations made about privacy and going ‘gray’ within those two topics but we didn’t break down PERSEC (Personal Security) into all its sub-categories. This topic will take those Gray Man generalizations further and, with some luck, provide you with a little more insight not only into how the Gray Man could fit into your life but also direct your attention to any deficiencies you might have within your own PERSEC. Some of the subject matter might seem familiar as this is a review. This topic is going to break down PERSEC into the individual categories and their corresponding acronyms.
Isn’t that cool? We get to use a lot of acronyms.
Here’s the list of acronyms that will be covered:
Let’s begin deciphering what this all means.
One subject that comes up a lot within the Prepping Community is OPSEC. OPSEC is Operational Security. The first use of this now common usage acronym can be traced back to the Vietnam Conflict and then during the 1970s to 1980s with the ‘survivalist’ movement. Since then, OPSEC has been adopted by preppers to define several generalized topics.
OPSEC, Operational Security, relates to either intentionally or unintentionally, informing friends, co-workers, neighbors, and relatives (essentially, anyone who does not have a need to know) information that is personal and/or private. The main way this pertains to a prepper is about your preparedness planning. As a prepper, you do not want to discuss what you do, what you have, where you will be going with anyone who is not your immediate family or directly involved with your prep planning. To get an extreme view of what can go wrong, look for the Twilight Zone episode ‘Shelter’.
If anyone outside your immediate family, not involved in prepping, overhears that you’re ‘stockpiling’, ‘preparing’, or have plans to deal with a disruptive event, they will remember that way back in the far reaches of their mind and when TSHTF (another cool acronym = The Shit Hits The Fan), will expect you to provide shelter, food and other amenities when they show up on your doorstep. While you might be prepared, you are definitely not prepared to take in neighbors, friends, co-workers, relatives, etc., that will have nothing but the clothes on their back and deplete your supplies while contributing literally dick-all to improve the situation.
OPSEC is important as you don’t want people who are not part of your immediate family and/or prep group to know anything about your preps and planning. Under the OPSEC umbrella, there are several more categories to consider.
SIGSEC, or Signal Security, can also be referred to as COMSEC, or Communications Security. This is security related to signals as in radio transmissions. If you as a prepper, have any form of two-way communication, hand-held radios, CB, FRS, HAM, etc, you need to limit your signals so some other party who might have the capability to triangulate your location does not show up on your doorstep and expect you to share your supplies with them. Worse case, they just want the supplies and you’re a speed bump in their way. Sound harsh? It’s happened in the past and with that historical precedent already set, why take the chance? If you have communications, use them sparingly and never divulge information on the air that could lead unwanted visitors to your well-prepared location.
TRANSEC is Transmission Security. Similar to SIGSEC, only TRANSEC deals with what you transmit over email, phone or online. Emails can be hacked, emails can be read, emails can be scanned for data and then sold to consumer research companies. Think this doesn’t happen? Check out this link:
Not to sound paranoid, but not only does a potential ISP (Internet Service Provider) or email provider scan your emails, the NSA has spent literally billions of tax payer dollars to enable them the capability to download and read all emails no matter who the ISP is or the email provider. Sure, the chances of your email being flagged are slim, but there is a list of words that their computers search for and if those words are in your email, innocently enough, that can happen; you could end up on a watch list or get a visit by one or more of the alphabet agencies.
That situation also applies to phone conversations. Most cities have a MESH network already installed that strips data from your phone as you walk or drive down the street. For more information on MESH, see this link in the privacy group:
MESH can download phone logs, emails, IMs, texts, digital phone books stored on any device capable of sending/receiving a text or call. All this is done without your knowledge or consent. Those networks also have the capability to listen in and record your phone conversations. This is not tinfoil hat paranoia; this is a fact, sadly.
Don’t forget online messaging and transactions involving credit card info and banking information. Hackers have broken into Point of Sale (POS) machines at retail stores (The great Target hack a few years back), banks (Chase bank was hacked a few years back as well), and investment firms. A good practice to get into is changing your passwords every 2-3 months and never using the same password for all sites. While that might work for high-tech issues, low-tech can also get you into trouble. Never just toss credit card offers, bank statements, billing statements or other sensitive information in your trash. Shred all official statements that contain personal information. Put yourself on the list to prevent unrequested credit card offers. Delete emails, clear browser cache, clear history, don’t enable save password option, use a password manager if that is an option. This applies to social media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. Don’t use the same password for all these sites or any of these sites. Watch what you post to those sites. Posting about prepping, firearms, ownership of firearms, tactical training, etc., on any mainstream social media site is a sure way to get a visit from police and/or any of the alphabet agencies.
Think that can’t happen? Check out this story:
This couple violated OPSEC and TRANSEC and had a good old time talking to law enforcement. Obviously, there’s more to the story than what was posted as all we know is what the couple has released publicly. Does this make anyone seem paranoid? No. It’s a learning lesson that shooting your mouth off online and posting pictures of your preps, firearms, training, whatever, is a sure bet that someone will take note and then pay a visit.
INFOSEC, or Information Security relates to what you have posted online about yourself. That means what you posted about yourself on Facebook, LinkedIn and other sites that are known for data-mining. Here’s an example that happens on FB all the time. Someone posts their wedding anniversary, where and when they met that person, what their maiden name was before marriage, where they went to school, when they graduated, where they worked, when their birthday is, who their relatives are and where they live now. Some of you will think, so what, what’s the big deal? Here’s the problem; all that information creates a treasure trove for anyone who data-mines, be it Facebook or a criminal who takes all that info gladly and in some cases, eagerly, provided and then, worse case, performs identity theft.
FB (Facebook) data-mines and has admitted they do, and then sells that info to other analytical companies or hires those same companies to data-mine and create a profile on the demographic of society you fall under that then gets sold and next thing you know, you’re getting emails, texts, letters, ads, whatever, related to what you may have posted online. Either way, your data is your data, don’t willingly provide it. Show some restraint and take back control of your privacy. If you don’t, no one else will. Is data-mining an escalating problem? Yes, it is. If you don’t care what private information you post online, why should anyone else. Identity theft is a huge issue. All that info is right there and all it takes is a name to start with. Same thing applies to people who post they’re going on vacation and how long they’ll be gone. Who does that? Seriously, you might as well just leave your curtains open, doors unlocked and a welcome mat out for the thieves who will take that info and act upon it. Take care what you post online and where. Take responsibility for your own privacy and proactive steps to prevent issues from arising.
Think this is a joke? If you’re on Facebook, download your ‘archive’. Prepare to be shocked. Here’s a link that will walk you through the steps to download:
PERSEC, or Personal Security. What does this mean? Personal Security connects to Situational Awareness and the OODA Loop. PERSEC is the core element you should be concerned about. All that we’ve discussed previously directly relates to PERSEC. You are responsible for your own security. There are no police assigned to you 24/7. In fact, a US Supreme Court ruling from the early 1980s clearly states the police are not there for your protection nor are they required to respond to all 9-1-1 calls. That revelation should make you feel warm and fuzzy all over.
PERSEC is all about Situational Awareness. For those of you not aware of what Situational Awareness is, read the linked topics at the start of this posting and start practicing OODA.
Several little procedures you can do right away. First step, watch what you post online to social media. Delete your account or change the privacy settings on your accounts on social media if that’s what you feel needs to be done. Change passwords, deletes apps that post on social media for you. That might cover some of the problems online but what about the real world?
Here’s a good practice to get into: if you have a garage, don’t leave the door open when you’re working outside in the front yard if the garage faces the street. People can walk or drive down the street and see what you have inside.
Next step, curtains, blinds, drapes, whatever you may have, use them. When it gets dark, close the curtains. Anyone outside can see in and you can’t see them because of the reflection off the interior glass. Think I’m joking? Try it some night, leave the curtain, drapes, blinds or what have you open, have you or your significant other step outside. Send them to the street and have them slowly walk up to the window until you can see them from the inside. Shocking, I’m sure, just how close they can get before you see them.
PERSEC is also common sense. Take action to prevent adverse events from happening. If you purchase something like a large screen TV, don’t make it obvious. Once you remove the item, fold the box so the plain cardboard is on the outside and not advertising who just bought a big ticket item. Dispose of the cardboard by removing all marks that indicate who bought it and where that item currently is. That means the removal of names of occupant and their address. If need be, cut the cardboard into smaller sections and dispose of it over the course of several days or weeks or take the cardboard to work and dispose of it in the recycle area there.
Implement some kind of timer on your interior lights in the event that you arrive home from work, school or wherever, after it’s dark. Exterior motion lights or lights that come on at dusk are also options to consider. The less inviting you make your home; the less likely a thief will target you. For more information on how to potentially secure your home and not make it a likely target, refer back to this topic:
PERSEC also includes other Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures (TTP) to consider. Some of these TTPs are discussed within the linked Gray Man topics. I’ll admit, some of the steps suggested seem a bit extreme, but, if you value your security and privacy, each method is worth researching. Practice adding layers to your Personal Security.
Why make it easy for those that intend to do harm?
The different acronyms can be a pain in the ass (PITA) to keep track of but they were created and adapted to keep you relatively safe. The more you practice these methods, the easier it becomes. Think muscle memory. While there is no guarantee that practicing any or all of what has been discussed will prevent bad things from happening, it will increase your awareness of what goes on around you and hopefully, decrease your chances of being involved in a situation that could have been prevented.