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News | Sept. 20, 2022

NITAM: Critical thinking in digital spaces – Social Media

By DCMA Security

Defense Contract Management Agency’s Counter-Insider Threat Program team (login required) champions National Insider Threat Awareness Month (login required) to ensure good practices keep the agency community safe in the digital world.

Individuals are spending an increased amount of time online these days. It is vital to exercise critical thinking in digital spaces to protect yourself and those you love. It is easy to use open source tools to aggregate data and build a profile on you.

What is critical thinking?
Critical thinking is an analytical form of thinking in which you question, analyze, interpret and evaluate data and make an educated, informed decision about the information you received. Threat actors constantly target social media users. Using critical thinking helps identify threat actors and aids in keeping social media profiles safe.

Some common forms of targeting include:

Identity compromise
Your identity can be compromised in different ways. While we all know about identity theft, your social media identity can be compromised by someone hacking into your account and taking control or cloning your account and impersonating you.

Cloning is the easiest to accomplish as someone merely downloads your pictures, creates a new account using your name, uploads your photos, and then invites all your friends to become friends with the imposter account.

Having a hacked or cloned account can be embarrassing as attackers often post inappropriate photos, damaging information or malicious links to embarrass you and attack your unsuspecting friends. This shows the importance of critical thinking:

  • Are you using two factor authentication or strong passwords on your social media accounts?
  • Did you take proper precautions to lock down your account so that others can’t see your friends list?
  • Do you periodically check your social media settings? As updates roll out, sometimes new security features are added or your current settings are reset to the default.

To ensure proper security, adhere to DOD guidance for creating passwords, not re-using passwords, maintaining updates, and using Virtual Private Networks and other security features (anti-virus, firewall), etc. Follow security guidance issued by the social media platform(s) of your choice to limit the opportunities for malfeasance. Only connect with people you know.

Monitoring for behavioral patterns
Don’t post about upcoming events. This makes you and those you love a potential target. Remember your antiterrorism training? Many of those incidents could have been avoided if only the victim had been more diligent in monitoring their own behavioral patterns. Remove historical posts. This hinders threat actors from building a solid timeline of your activities.

Targeting of family, friends, colleagues or even yourself
Threat actors are constantly seeking ways to influence and control you and/or your loved ones. Threat actors will pretend to know you and try to influence your thoughts and behaviors by engaging in subtle campaigns of hate speech, violence, anti-government sentiment, etc.

Just as you continually strive to avoid the aggregation of data in the workplace, you need to transfer these practices to your personal life, especially when posting on social media.

For more information on Insider Threat Awareness, visit the agency’s Counter-Insider Threat Program 365 page (login required). To try the reporting demo, click here (login required), and discover how your vigilance protects DCMA’s ultimate warfighter support mission.