With your continuing and evolving goals of becoming self-reliant and building resiliency in your own life, you need to protect the skills, supplies, and capabilities that you have gained. Operational Security, or commonly abbreviated as “OpSec”, is an essential capability to protect your family.
Five Levels of OpSec Redundancy
Level 1 – Be Law Abiding
The first aspect of OpSec is simply to be a good, law-abiding citizen. Obvious? Not to some survival preppers. Whatever your political, cultural, or religious views, there is always some reason to be angry or concern about government. As the current state of the governments in the United States, Canada, and United Kingdom, you can be a law-abiding citizen and yet prepare for disasters, emergencies, and political upheavals. Although there have been recent loses of freedom in these countries, there is no justifiable cause at this point to rise up against the government. The democratic processes still work in these countries, not well, but work. The bigger political problems in these countries are people are voting themselves money in the form of government benefits provided from borrowed money. Shamefully these countries are borrowing from their yet unborn grandchildren to pay current benefits. As a result, I believe that a Great Depression is coming in the next 5 to 10 years as all the bills come due for the vast borrowed money. This is a major reason that I’m a survival prepper — getting ready for a potential economic collapse. While I’m very displeased about the progressive/liberal/socialist take over of the government, I am still able to prepare my family for hard economic times ahead. If and when our government evolves to tyranny, then I’ll consider more drastic course of action. But tyranny is not the current state. And I pray every day for freedom and a strong economy.
The key message with this level of redundancy is — don’t poke the beast. Don’t wake up the beast. Stay away from the beast. The beast being the strong-arm of law enforcement. Ranting and raving that an armed insurrection is needed is just plain stupid, even if it were necessary in some unfortunate future. Or advocating that you don’t follow any laws is just poking at the beast. I am a strong advocate of the rule of law and community policing. Community policing is what puts the civil into civilization. Supporting your local police should always be a community priority. In saying that, no one should tolerate the few police who abuse their positions. The best way to lose OpSec, lose freedom, and lose all your survival goals is to break the law. If you are ever arrested, you lose all of your OpSec. Even if you are found not guilty, you have brought a level of scrutiny and loss of privacy to you and your family that is never regained.
The 2nd Amendment debate continues to rage in the United States. There are some locations of the United States where the 2nd Amendment is not respected and not defended by politicians. Yet, you can still have defensive firearms. So stay within your local laws. Even though several of your Bill of Right protections ARE being violated by local, state, or federal governments, stay within the law. Know what firearms are permissible in your location. You may not be able to own an AK-47 or AR-15, but likely you are permitted to own a pump shotgun. Or a bolt action hunting rifle. If laws constrain your right to own a firearm in your location, have a friend or family member in a neighboring state hold ownership, in their name, of firearms you might need to access in the future.
Whenever you see your rights are being constrained by governments, most often there are legal workaround’s. If my take you 9 months to obtain a Concealed Carry License. So start the process now.
With all of your personal and business activities, live an upright and honest life. Short cuts and cheating may produce short-term gains. But in the long run, cheating and law breaking break on of the survival preppers main rules of preserving your freedom. A prepper is willing to work hard and longer to build honest relationships. Please refer to my past article: The Survival Prepper Ten Commandments
Level 2 – Keep Your Mouth Shut
The most basic aspect of OpSec is not talking. Since only 1% or 2% of people are preppers, the greatest risk you have is non-preppers. A true survival prepper will not steal or commit violence. So with all of your prepping activities, keep your mouth shut. Don’t discuss your survival prepping activities and supplies with friends, family, and neighbors. Don’t talk about it. The only folks that should know about your prepper activities is your spouse or life partner. And your dedicated survival group is obviously aware of your capabilities. If you form or join a dedicated survival prepper group, you need to do so cautiously and carefully over time. Only time and action can validate the character and honest of friends and survival group members.
Why not discuss with anyone? In the event of an emergency or disaster, do you want your entire neighborhood knocking on your door? Your first duty is to your own family, just as everyone should first take care of their own family. Only after you know that your family is well provided, now and well into the future, only then can you provide charity to others. If you provide charity, do so anonymously. If it is well-known in the community that you have stored food, water, guns, ammo, gold coins, or silver coins, you will be a magnet for bad people. Many known preppers have had their homes burglarized. After a disaster, a mob can approach your home demanding food, water, whatever. If you ever find yourself confronting a mob, likely you lose. Thus, don’t give your neighborhood reason to be demanding of scare resources from your family after a disaster.
My neighbors, friends, and family have no knowledge that I’m a survival prepper. I like it like that. That puts me in control of my own situation. I can help other people, if and only if my family is safe, sound, and well feed.
One aspect that you may be surprised about is even my children are unaware of my being a survival prepper. I have young children. Children do not have the discretion to know when and when not to talk about specific subjects. While my children know that I’m armed with firearms, that is because I teach them to identify and stay away from firearms. I keep my firearms in only two places. First, is on my very body in a concealed format. Second, all my other firearms are locked under key to prevent access. About two years ago, OpSec was broken when my daughter told one of her friends that “daddy stores rice under my bed.” I just any available space to store survival supplies. Under my daughter’s bed were #5 sized cans of long-term storable white rice. White rice can be stored for 1o years (or more) in cool, dry, well-sealed conditions. Under a bed is ideal for storing food, garden seeds, and medicines. I had to teach my children to not talk about their daddy’s guns or prepper supplies. Loose lips sink ships. Loose lips causes preppers to lose their guns, food, and other goods.
Guns are tools. All tools can be dangerous. If used correctly and under the right rules, guns are not risky. To all that say that you are more at risk by owning a firearm, or say you are more likely to be harmed by your own firearms, perhaps statistically that is correct. But since I am trained, careful, and follow safe firearms rules, I feel very comfortable and feel safer having firearms than not. Please refer to the following information about safe handling of firearms.
- Firearms Safety — 10 Rules of Safe Gun Handling
- NRA Gun Safety Rules
- Gun Safety Rules
- Gun Safety
- Gun Safety Rules
When you own firearms, you don’t want people to know about it. I highly recommend that law-abiding citizens gain their concealed carry permit, where allowable. I want potential criminals to be surprised that I am legally carrying a firearm. I am a strong advocate of women getting firearms training and having a legal carry firearm. Firearms are the great equalizer. The average man can easily out power the average woman. A woman with a gun can prevent rape, robbery, and violence. And unarmed woman rarely can defend herself from an aggressive man. A meth addict or mentally ill person may not be distracted by a full blast of pepper spray. A 120 pound woman with martial art skills may not be able to defend herself from a 200 pound man. But if a criminal knows you are carrying a gun, they will approach you with more sudden violence and not have an opportunity to defend yourself. And how do most criminals obtain firearms? The answer is stealing or purchasing from another criminal.
I am a strong advocate of teaching your children about the risks of the world. Firearms, alcohol, drugs, sex and other risky endeavors can either be taught at home or learned on the street. Learning on the street does not instill the values you hold. You cannot hide the reality of the world from your children. You cannot gun-proof your home, but you can gun-proof your children by teaching them to identify and run away from guns. You never know when your child might find guns, drugs, or porno in their travels or visits to friends homes. I like to have a glass of wine with my dinner. And I teach my children through responsible behaviors and through teaching how to responsibly drink alcohol. I tell my children that I will teach them how to drink alcohol when the right time comes. And I teach my children to identify guns and bullets. And I teach my children to not talk about home security and their daddy’s supplies. Equally, get your spouse, life partner, or roommates on board with not discussing your capabilities and supplies. This is hard for women, I know. I need to continually remind my wife to not discuss my capabilities and supplies with her girlfriends. A casual comment can be passed along until it reaches a bad person’s ears.
In this day and age were social progressives, liberals, and socialist are pushing a No Gun agenda, if your neighbors know that you own and carry firearms, they are more likely to call the cops or otherwise inform on you. Or they may cut your out of the neighborhood social circles. Or not let your children have play dates. As a responsible, law-abiding gun owner, no one needs to know your capabilities.
Level 3 – Minimize Social Media
A quick and easy way to lose your operational security is to have a highly visible presence in social media. If you are posting and discussing your prepper activities on Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, and other alternative media forums, you surrender a level of privacy. This blog is anonymous for a good reason. The reason is protecting my family. I don’t want people find our where I live. Now could the NSA uncover my identity? Absolutely yes, within 5 minutes. And I’m okay with that. I’m law-abiding. I love my country. I love my family and care for my neighbors. I am boring, ordinary, and unpretentious. Thus I am a risk to no one, except to criminals that might do my family harm. But for the average person, you have no way of knowing my name, where I live, and causing harm to my family. My blog is a forum to share and education others. And while blogging, I don’t want to open my family to security risks. As well, you should protect your family.
Social media has other risks as well. If you post on Facebook that you are taking a vacation, you open your home to potential burglaries. If your children’s names can be obtained from some social media site, perhaps a predator can call to your children in some public space. Identify thieves can derive a lot of information from your social media postings. I have a Facebook account, but it exists to hide in plain sight. I don’t use Facebook to manage my friendships and relationships. My friendships and relationships are maintained through voice and presence. No true relationship can exist solely within social media.
Level 4 – Hide in Plain Sight
Hiding in plain sight is the concept of blending into the crowd. You look ordinary and nondescript. You don’t stand out. You don’t look exceptional. There is no reason to give you a second look. Why is this important? Maintaining OpSec is about maintain your privacy and security. If you stand out in any way, look exceptional, appear special, then various bad people will look at your more closely.
The first element of hiding in plain sight is your home. You don’t want your home to stand out and gather interest of bad people. This is established by your home looking average to your neighborhood. If you home looks either poorer or richer than the rest of the neighborhood, then bad people will look at your home as a target. A poor home appears weak and indefensible. A rich looking home (richer than your neighbors) looks like a good target for thieves, kidnappers, and other bad people. Equally, if your home appears as a defensive castle, that gathers interest as well. By having your home appear ordinary and average, that gives you the element of surprise to bad people.
That said, you should take action to make your home more defensible. Sliding glass doors are horribly indefensible. Your doors should be solid, not hollow. And well anchored into the frame. Metal doors are preferable. Dead bolt locks and door stopper locks help secure the doors. Windows should always be locked. Even when you are home, doors should be locked. Have an alarm system and having it turned on, even when at home. Have thorny bushes underneath windows. Having safe room for your family to retreat, in the event of a home invasion, is a good capability. And have your firearms ready to respond to a threat. If you live in a crime ridden neighborhood, don’t suffer that — MOVE! Live among only nice people who well care for their homes and their neighborhood. Take part in a community watch program. And support your local police by reporting crime and being a witness to crimes. Bad people rise up, when good people cower.
Another aspect of hiding in plain sight is how your dress. Don’t wear a lot of fancy jewelry or expensive watches. Wearing a $10,000 Rolex watch is a homing beacon to bad people. You want to dress in clothing that understates your wealth. Dress as a rich person attracts attention. Also, neutral colors in your clothing helps your blend into the crowd.
In your survival prepper acquisition of supplies, USE CASH. Your activities are easily tracked by use of credit cards, gift cards, and debit cards. When buying firearms, ammunition, long-term storable food, use cash. Your life history is open for detection in the future from all your past credit card, debit card purchases. eBay and PayPal also expose your purchases to some future rogue entity. If new laws are suddenly enacted the prohibit formerly legal purchases, you have no way to maintaining your secrecy. If a new gun law was suddenly passed and thus outlawing a legally purchases firearm, I would move those firearms to another state or ask a distant friend or family member to store the firearm. But if the government is aware your firearm purchases, new laws can put your into a difficult situation. Don’t think this can happen? Well it does. People in New York City are being demanded to surrender their firearms in January 2014. NYC alarms with notice: ‘Immediately surrender your rifle’ It has already occurred in Canada, United Kingdom, and Australia. And it can happen in other places. While I preach being a law-abiding citizen, I’d like the option to meet the requirements of new laws on my terms. You cannot expect advanced notice of law changes in the future.
Level 5 – Have Contingency Plans
To maintain OpSec and overall personal security, it is wise to have several contingency plans.
I’ll suggest that you form certain code words with your family to establish a means to identify risks. For example, your spouse can have the code phrase, “All is well here.” But the only time your spouse would ever use such a phrase would be to identify that an intruder is in the home. You can develop a set of coded phrases that lets your family know how to communicate or react to an emergency. Of your various survival retreats or rallying locations, you can have a code phrase for each. “I’ll see you at the Chinese restaurant” could mean “go to your mom’s house immediately and stay there until contacted.” A number of code words can help your children communicate that they feel threatened. The phrase, “I tired today” could mean, “I’m scared, come get me now.”
A primary contingency plan is having several bug out locations. You should have a rallying location very close to your home and in your neighborhood. The rallying places are a location where your family should meet, if some emergency befell your home. I recommend that every family have 3 predestined bug-out retreat locations. The bug-out locations can be a vacation home, mountain cabin, hunting lodge, a well-known camp ground, family member’s home, friends home, or a distant hotel. Have paper maps to all three bug out locations with several alternative travel routes to all 3 locations. Even of the rally point and bug-out locations should have a code word. A code word for each location can be communicate via phone, text message, email, walkie-talkie, etc.
Contingency plans also come in the form of insurance. I always advocate that you obtain whatever insurance pertains to your risks. Have children under the age of 18, carry debts, or don’t have enough retirement assets for your spouse, then you should have life insurance. Live near the beach or flood plain, then you should have special flood insurance. Have replacement options for homeowners or renters insurance. Have your vehicle
A contingency plan should be made with regard to your computer passwords and credit history. Recommend periodically checking your credit history to monitor for identity theft. And educate your family about composing of passwords which are difficult to crack. Don’t use personal information to compose a password. Use numbers and symbols to create computer passwords when ever possible. Don’t use your kids names or pet names to create passwords. No birthdate, addresses, social security numbers, and phone numbers in passwords. A password should never be composed of personal identifying information. And change your password every 3 month, if not more frequent.
- A good password: Fox5566#Trot7788#
- A weak password: Joe01011970 where is the person’s name with their birthdate.
Here are some links to how to establish strong passwords:
- Password Recommendations
- Password strength
- How to choose good passwords
- 7 Tips To Toughen Passwords
- Keeping your account secure
- Recommendations how to create strong passwords
An important plan for information security and OpSec, never mix business and personal in your communications. Keep your business activities in business accounts. All personal activity in personal accounts. Your employer has the right to see all activity in business accounts, business emails, and business provided communication devices. If your company provides you with a mobile phone, also maintain a personally owned mobile phone.
Recognize that all your internet accounts can be accessed by government or legal entities. The current situation with the NSA is they are legally permitted (for now) to collect third-party records. Your phone calls, text message, internet purchases, credit card purchases, banking activity, and emails can all be captured by the NSA. If you ever are involved in a legal situation, criminal or civil, all these same data sources can be subpoenaed and exposed to courts and lawyers. So don’t use any of these forms to conduct activities that you want to keep private.
If you cannot defend it, do you really own it? An important concept in survival prepping is defending your family, your home, and your hard-earned personal materials. OpSec is a concept useful to protecting and defending your family and your stuff. Redundancy is about having layers of defenses. If one layer fails, other layers can catch the risk item.
This article is targeted towards law-abiding people. It is presented for entertainment and educational discussion purposes only. With regard to legal, criminal, financial, or medical topics, always consulting a licensed professional. Do not take this article or any other information on my blog as recommendations to take any actions. Gather all your own information from multiple sources. Education yourself. And make decisions that best fit your own personal needs.