RAF personnel on deployment @Crown copyright

Friday 6th September 2019

Anybody who has been on deployment knows it’s not as simple as packing your bags and boarding an aircraft. Before you leave, there’s a succession of briefings about your destination and your role there. When you’re away, your mind is focused on the job in hand. And at home, it’s often an emotional and anxious time for both Service personnel and their loved ones.

A major factor of deployment is the importance of keeping yourself, your colleagues and your unit protected – whether the tour is operational or not. That’s physically … and online.

The combination of the intensity of the job and separation from your family could lead to letting down your guard, with outcomes that are similar to those you encounter at home. However, there are additional safety and security implications around being in the Armed Forces, not least when it comes to sensitive information such as locations, roles and objectives.

A hasty post or text is all it might take to compromise your safety. Or not having location settings disabled on mobile devices and fitness or other apps. The same goes for comments on social media by friends or family back home – however well-intentioned.

Practical tips to help you keep you, your unit and the RAF safe and secure whilst on deployment

  • Revealing your location could compromise an operation or exercise and the safety of yourself and your colleagues, or even impact on national security. Disable location on all apps, cameras and devices. Don’t post locations on social media, nor reveal where you are in response to texts, DMs or phone calls. If online dating, keep your location and work confidential.
  • It’s vital to tell your friends and family not to discuss online details of the nature or location of your deployment. This includes parents and grandparents.
  • Posting on social media that you’re away can also reveal that your family is back home without you. This is a good opportunity to check your privacy settings.
  • Who can see what you post, or your profile? Who’s on your friends list. Do they tag you into posts? Are your old posts still visible? Can search engines link to your posts or account? Check periodically that your social media privacy and security settings are configured safely.
  • Always remember that as guests in the country where we are deployed, it’s important that we respect the local culture, religion and language. That includes what you post on social media.
  • Carefully protect laptops, tablets and phones everywhere, whether you’re carrying, stowing, transporting or using them, especially in public places. This applies to both issued and personal devices.
  • Observe rules about using public Wi-Fi hotspots and non-MOD approved VPNs when doing anything confidential. They are as likely to be unsecured abroad, as in the UK, but the consequences could be more serious.
  • Be aware of your deployment’s Personal Electronic Device (PED) Policy. This will determine how to safely use your devices when in theatre. Contact your Det SyO for further information if required.
  • If your family or friends think they have been involved in a cyber related incident whilst you’re away on deployment then your local RAF Police section should be informed. The incident will then be reported through the appropriate channels.
  • If you feel any of your accounts or devices have been compromised whilst deployed, you should inform your Det SyO immediately.
  • Know how to use Closed Messaging Applications (CMAs) safely whilst deployed. Check your deployment’s Social Networking Policy for further details on what can/cannot be discussed on these applications.

For more information visit: getsafeonline.org/raf

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