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Security Awareness Week 2019 – Play Your Part!

By Captain Fraser Clark, Director General Defence Security Public Affairs –

This month, the Director General Defence Security (DGDS), Commodore Josée Kurtz delivered a key-note address at National Defence Headquarters (Pearkes) promoting Security Awareness Week 2019, referencing the annual security campaign’s hard-ball marketing theme. “SAW (Security Awareness Week) is vital to the Defence Team, precisely because it forces us to step back and consider, in the most basic way, why we need to observe and execute optimum security practices in the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces.”

“Strengthening security culture is about teamwork and this speaks directly to our campaign theme:  Security is a team sport – play your part.”

The Commodore also addressed the more sinister and ongoing information destabilization campaigns that are receiving great attention in western media, including Russia’s no-holds barred cyber blitzing. “Hackers have become much bolder in their attacks, penetrating governments and business networks all over the globe. These tools aim to disturb our information security, physical security, IT Security and Personnel Security. In essence, our entire security infrastructure.”

Security Awareness Week is the annual government-wide awareness initiative deployed across Canada on wings, bases and ships, held this year from 4-8 February 2019. The National Capital Region (NCR) events included information kiosks set up and rotated through NDHQ(Pearkes), NDHQ(Carling) and Star Top.

l-r: Assistant Deputy Minister Materiel Senior Secuirty Advisor Susan Thomlinson, Associate Deputy Minister Gordon Venner, Vice Chief of Defense Staff Lieutenant-General Paul Wynnyk and Director General Defence Security Commodore Josee Kurtz pose around the podium for the Security Awareness Week Kick-off at National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa, Ontario on February 5th, 2019.

“We do not thank enough the many volunteers who take time away from their jobs to staff the kiosks that make Security Awareness Week the event it is today.” said Mr. Pat Boutet, Unit Security Supervisor for Canadian Forces Support Unit (Ottawa). “Don’t forget to support security within your unit!”

This was the first year DGDS hosted external agencies to promote their security programmes. Commodore Kurtz welcomed members from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police National Cyber Crimes Investigation Unit and the Canadian Security Establishment’s Canadian Centre for Cyber Security.

Speaking at the kick-off event were Associate Deputy Minister of National Defence, Mr. Gordon Venner; Vice Chief of the Defence Staff, Lieutenant-General Paul Wynnyk; and the Security Liaison Officer for the Assistant Deputy Minister (Materiel) Ms. Susan Thomlinson. Also observing the SAW event were the commanders of the Royal Canadian Navy and the Canadian Army, Vice-Admiral Ron Lloyd and Lieutenant-General Jean-Marc Lanthier, as well as senior leaders from the Royal Canadian Air Force along with other Level One organizations in the National Capital Region.

On a final note as Master of Ceremonies, the Commodore passed along some simple security observations and advice.

“I still see people leaving NDHQ with their building passes in full view. We simply cannot advertise our building identification and risk the security of our personnel. We have to think more diligently about hiding our passes. So, if you leave this building with a friend, check your buddy as soon as you pass through those revolving doors.  You just never know; it might prevent a larger security incident from happening.”

Follow These Tips to Up Your Social Media Security

Whether you’re keeping in touch with family and friends, or just posting a few great pictures from your vacation, read on for some social media tips.

  • It All Starts With the Password: Passwords are the first step to securing your social media. Longer passwords are stronger, and good passwords won’t contain your birthdate or other identifiable information, which can make them easier to guess. Don’t forget to add a password for each account – and also for your mobile phone.
  • Whose Information Is It Anyway? At National Defence, we are exposed to information we can’t share except with those who need to know and who have the appropriate security clearance level. Whatever information you post on social media is being shared with the general public. Before you post information, always make sure that information belongs to you and not the Government of Canada.
  • Think about What You Share: Cybercriminals or others may search your personal social media accounts looking for information about you, or information that could reveal facts about DND and the CAF. And remember, information builds up over time. We at National Defence must ensure the information you post maintains operational security. Ensure your profile doesn’t contain information that could be used to compromise your identity, like a phone number, home address, or financial information. Also, make sure that your social media postings don’t paint a picture of your own or colleagues’ work activity.
  • More Security, Please: Different social media sites have different privacy settings, and these can change often. Whether you’re an official social media user or just setting up your personal accounts, make sure to monitor privacy settings. Add additional security measures, like two-factor authentication, if they are available.
  • Be Careful Where You Click: Social media accounts can be hacked, and criminals can post malicious links. Critically evaluate the message you receive, especially if you’re being asked to click on a link. You can hover your mouse over a link before you click it to find out where it will take you. If you don’t recognize the sender, if the message seems wrong, or if you have a bad feeling about it – don’t click on it.
  • Updates: Use anti-virus software to keep your personal computer safe. Always update your home computer and your browser. Having the latest version of software will help protect you against known threats.
  • GEOTAGS: Some social media sites will automatically add a geotag to your photos or posts, and this will reveal the physical spot where the photo or post occurred. We recommend turning off geotagging, because it can easily reveal more information than you intended. For example, if you’re posting pictures while travelling, a collection of geotags can tell someone where you live – and that you’re not home.
  • Third-Party Dangers: Be careful about what third-party applications you connect to your social media, as these can be hacked or contain malware.
  • When the Cat’s Away… Whenever your computer is connected to the Internet, it is vulnerable. Chances are your home computer is still running while you’re at work. Turning off your computer or cellphone, or disconnecting the Wi-Fi, can help protect these systems while you’re not using them.

Remember to always stay vigilant on social media and at work!

This post is also available in: Français (French)

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