Methods to Secure Sensitive Items Essay

Of the many tasks of a soldier, of all ranks and positions, one of the most important is that of operational security, or “Opsec”. This takes many forms, from keeping top secret actions and information secured and out of the hands of potential enemies, all the way to checking and double-checking all security measures guarding these “sensitive items”. This paper will explain the reasonings and methods behind, specifically, the guarding, securing, and monitoring of sensitive items of various types, as well as the consequences if such actions are not taken.

There are multiple steps one must take to keep everything out of the hands of individuals who might less than desirable intentions. The first being the careful recording of all items to attain a proper count, distinguishable markings such as serial codes etched onto them, and a record of where they are kept. This allows a person to quickly check, whenever necessary, to find if any objects are missing with only a quick count and look in the appropriate places, and if they are missing allow the individuals searching to easily identify any items matching the descriptions with a likewise quick check for matching identification codes.

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Additionally, along with recording identifying marks, it is suggested to take photos rather than simply relying on memory to describe the appearance of sensitive items such as firearms. If identifying markings are not available, then it would be wise to etch, clearly and distinctly, and use those instead. Security checks should be conducted periodically, making sure that the count is accurate, with random checks of the serial numbers with the purpose of ensuring that the items on hand are the ones recorded.

Another method of keeping these materials secure is to keep them locked and a record of all who access, further limiting any potential suspects if anything were to come up missing. While all of those are great for the securing of physical items, such as weapons, they are not quite as effective for other items, such as information. While some items are easily cataloged and recorded, pure information is much harder to safeguard. It is possible to simply lock paperwork and records, preventing access to them, but for anything that has frequent use or must be readily available it is not feasible to do this.

These materials are where people must take great care. A prime example for this would be the Common Access Card, or CAC, is a soldier’s personal identification card and one of the only means of access to certain functions. Alongside, with the current age of internet and digital communications, the CAC is often the only means of identifying individuals for reasons of paperwork, or signing onto official websites such as Army Knowledge Online or MyPay. These require constant vigilance of soldiers as they are easily and commonly misplaced, lost, or can be stolen.

The only method of securing sensitive information, as opposed to items, is pure and simple vigilance on the part of the individual, as well as looking out for their fellows. Even harder to secure than paper information is information stored on digital means. Internet, portable storage devices, electronic mail, and similar are all easily stolen, hacked, or otherwise gotten into if the proper measures are not taken. For this, the military has devised a series of rules and regulations specifically designed to limit the spillage of classified, or simply personal, information through digital means.

While not foolproof, these measures greatly reduce the risk of unsanctioned personnel and are quite simple to follow. The most common is that of wireless communications. Secure information is not to be sent by way of wireless signals as that is, by far, the most easily infiltrated and broken into. Unless extensive measures are taken to secure these signals, then any adequately skilled in hacking would be capable of piggybacking or stealing any messages sent, files transfered, or even digging into for personal information.

Likewise, sensitive information is not to be transferred by way of storage devices such as thumb drives, external hard drives, or personal digital assistants. In fact, these portable systems are not to even be connected to secure or work computers, many of which actually have their Universal Serial Bus (USB) ports deactivated, or simply lack them entirely. Other systems have screens which prevent anyone not directly in front of the computer monitor to be able to see what is written on it. Again, these all work to mitigate and reduce the risk of exposure or theft, but only work if these measures are properly used and maintained.

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