Situational Awareness

Posted by   Steve Thibeault
03/19/2013
0
Opsec and Situational Awareness

OPSEC, or OPerations SECurity, refers to the concept of keeping things private. You’ve all likely heard the phrase, “Loose lips sink ships.” Same idea here.

The key thing to remember is to pay attention to what you allow the world to see. It really doesn’t take a lot of extra effort or time to play things closer to the vest.

When we talk about OPSEC for the average person, we’re talking about ways to prevent someone else from deciding you’d be a great target for a home invasion or burglary.

For example, many people right now are receiving their tax refunds and some of them, no doubt, will spend at least some of that money on fun stuff like a new TV. Ok, so you bring home your new flat screen HDTV and set it up. After heading back to the store to get the cords you forgot the first trip, you’re finally up and running.

Without thinking much of it, the TV box goes to the end of the driveway for trash pickup. Guess what? You’ve just told anyone who happens to drive by between now and garbage day that you are now the proud owner of a really nice TV.

You’d be much better off taking the box and flattening it, then cutting it into sections to pile up under your recycling bin. That should take you all of perhaps 3 extra minutes out of your day.

If you insist on taking your iPad everywhere, at the very least don’t leave it sitting on your car seat while you spend a few hours shopping at the mall. Same goes for high-end mp3 players, GPS units, and the like.

All it would take is a couple seconds for someone to smash your window and you’re left with nothing more than shattered glass on the seat. To add insult to injury, what do you figure the odds are it’ll be pouring rain too?

Speaking of shopping, many folks today prefer to use cash for at least some purchases. The idea being your purchases can’t be tracked in that way.

However, the guy behind you in line might take notice of the wad of bills you pulled from your pocket and decide that those portraits of dead presidents will look better in his hands than yours.

Sure, you can defend yourself and such but why invite the trouble to begin with? Instead, spread out your lettuce among several of your pockets, only removing as much as you need to complete the transaction.

As you go about your daily life, pay attention to your actions. Give thought to whether you are practicing good OPSEC.

Situational Awareness

If I were asked to talk about one single thing that can dramatically increase one’s personal safety, whether at home or out and about, it would be situational awareness. Essentially, this refers to being aware of your surroundings.

Let’s face it, many people go about their day all but oblivious to the world around them. With their faces hidden behind cell phones and tablets, they have very little sense of what is happening even five feet in any direction from them. If they aren’t busy texting someone about tonight’s concert plans, they’re posting photos of their lunch to Facebook.

The sad truth is, these people are victims-in-waiting. Criminals look for these folks and prey upon them daily.

Put your damn phone away and pay attention to what goes on around you. Keep your head up and your eyes open. I’m not saying you need to walk around in some sort of DEFCON 1 mode. However, you should give off an air of confidence.

You want the world to know you’re paying attention and ready to handle whatever comes your way.

Little known fact — just looking a potential attacker in the eye can be enough to dissuade them from bugging you. They don’t want to deal with someone who looks like they can take care of themselves.

As you walk down the street, watch for anyone who appears to be trying to get close to you. Look at their face and their hands. Something often overlooked is the fact that the hands do the dirty work in most cases. They aren’t going to grab your purse with their teeth, right?

A side benefit of increasing your awareness is you may just appreciate the world we live in a little more. You’ll actually see, maybe for the first time, the blooms on the trees in another month. You’ll hear kids playing in their yards. You’ll smell that fresh baked bread at the bakery.

Take off the blinders and see what you’ve been missing.

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