I sure wish the title were true. Unfortunately, I have evidence to the contrary – read on…
BASED ON A TRUE STORY – THE DETAILS HAVE BEEN ALTERED SO AS TO PROTECT MY SOURCE
Date: Sometime in the very near past that isn’t right now and not yesterday – but still very, very, very recently
Time: After the sun came up but before the second smoke break
Where: At the food court in a big military building with five sides somewhere in the northeast that will remain nameless
This is a faithful account of an event as reported by a friend of mine…
“I’m ordering coffee this morning because I stayed up too late watching an NBA game (Phoenix beat Denver). I look over to my left and an Army COL (O-6) is also ordering coffee. He puts down the paper in his hands to pay the cashier and to my surprise the hardcopy email is SECRET. Yes, SECRET!!!!! I’m dumbfounded so after I wait for the COL to complete his transaction and he goes to a table to sit down. He is sipping his coffee and reading the SECRET email like he is in his office. I couldn’t take it any longer and asked the COL could I sit down. Without covering the document, he allowed me to sit. I pointed out to him he should not be reading a SECRET document outside of his work area. He said he was on his way to an 0800 meeting and he didn’t have the time to go to his office (which brings up more questions. I identified myself as //IDENTIFYING DATA DELETED// and he said he “appreciated” my “OPSEC vigilance” but he has a “real job to do.” I politely pull a blank sheet of paper from my book bag and asked the COL to cover the document or I would have to notify security. He asked where I worked and who I worked for. I replied that didn’t matter so please cover the document. The COL then got up and walked out.”
No time to stop by the office but plenty of time to grab a cup of Joe and sit down to enjoy it? In the middle of the food court? With an uncovered SECRET document? Well kiss my ass in the middle of the town square and call me Sparky but the sad, sad, sad truth is that unfortunately this happens all too often.
How many times do I have to shout out from the mountain top that WE are our own biggest threat? How many times will security be sacrificed for convenience? How many times will high rank not equal good judgment? How many times will security consciousness be overruled by ignorance and hubris? How many times will ignorance rule over damn near everything else? How many times damn it!
The simple answer is that in the time it’s taken me to write this all the above has happened numerous times in numerous places. When will it end? Never. It really is that simple. Stuff like this will never stop – not as long as humans are involved.
So, what do we do about it? Well, I reckon we keep shouting from the mountain top – we keep writing OPSEC articles – we keep giving awareness briefings – we keep putting posters up – we don’t ignore bad security practices when we see them – and most importantly, we keep the faith and spread the good word of OPSEC.
Keep the Faith!
A Change Is Gonna Come – Sam Cooke