Operations security, or OpSec, is an integral part of many organizations’ efforts to defend themselves against the aggressive intelligence gathering methods utilized by competitors or other interested parties. But what does it mean specifically?
In simple terms, OpSec is a process put in place to safeguard something valuable. The value itself can be comprised of almost anything: financial information, future strategy plans, trade secrets or even industry rumors. Anything that, should it fall into the wrong hands, might cause problems for an organization.
So how does a solid operations security protocol look like in practice? As with many security-related questions, the answer is: it depends. Although there are several identified best practices applicable to everyone, each organization’s OpSec needs vary depending on many factors, such as their specific industry and operating environment.
When thinking about OpSec, many get the idea of employees utilizing cutting edge tradecraft and conducting their day-to-day business akin to a spy-like covert operation. In reality, a good OpSec protocol can be comprised of simple heuristics and guidelines – often even small concessions towards securing your information can make it significantly more difficult for someone to steal.
Although maintaining solid OpSec is essential even during normal office circumstances, its importance grows almost exponentially during travel, as the odds of sensitive information leaking are far greater when conducting business in an unfamiliar, insecure environment.
The comic strip below illustrates some standard OpSec practices one should consider during a business trip. Can you spot the mistakes our protagonists are making? Click the image to see the rest of the comic, and our tips at the end.
Maintaining good OpSec can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be too complicated – using common sense and following simple security protocols is often enough. Just remember: OpSec doesn’t work after the fact. You can’t erase a leak, or swipe it under the rug. When information is out, it’s out.
Our recommendation? Instead of dealing with the consequences of security compromises, it’s better to avoid them altogether.
Stay safe out there.