Career Advice

OPM Data Breach Consequences Featured in Latest Tom Clancy Book

I like a good espionage book just as much as next guy and I recently finished reading “Tom Clancy: True Faith and Allegiance” written by Mark Greaney, who continued the series after Clancy passed away in 2013. Much to my surprise, the main premise of the book centered on the 2014 OPM data breach and how the information was used by the bad guys to target members of the U.S. intelligence and military community.

This got me thinking about how an individual with nefarious intentions can use information off of an SF-86 and more importantly, what value it may have to them. I use open source and publicly available data such as voting records, official and criminal court records, property tax records, and social media sites on a daily basis to conduct follow-up research and inquiries in order to confirm, corroborate or invalidate data. Paid access to information broker websites opens additional doors enabling a deeper dive. I can hear you thinking right now…’my internet footprint is next to nothing – they won’t find anything useful.’

Well, you may be right about your own footprint, but what about your family, friends, co-workers, neighbors or teammates? Do they post pictures or information about you on their social media sites? Remember your sister, the one who posts EVERYTHING on Facebook? What about your neighbor who posts a message to your spouse’s site saying they are happy you are finally coming back from your unit’s deployment to Iraq? The point here is that as current or future security clearance holders, you should be vigilant in protecting all of your personal information. This includes: personally identifiable information; when and where you will be on vacations; events you are attending; finances and major purchase; and even information about your kids. Make it harder for identity thieves, con artists, and foreign intelligence agents to find and exploit you.

Has anyone else read the book? What were your thoughts?