Author of The Blackout Book and the online course Bloom Where You’re Planted
If you’ve been in prepper circles for long, you’ve probably heard the term OpSec. It is taken from military jargon and it’s short for Operations Security. In the preparedness and survival world, it generally means not letting other people know that you are prepped, or if they know, they definitely don’t know the specifics of what you have.
Not only do we want to keep the level of our preparedness private, these days, keeping our opinions private might be likewise beneficial from a security perspective. More on that in a moment.
Trigger Warning: There’s no way I can write this article without ticking somebody off. Some readers will feel that I’m siding with the right and others will feel like I’m siding with the left. I’m not because I am not a Democrat or a Republic, nor am I a conservative or a liberal. I’m a critical thinker with diverse opinions that fall into all sorts of categories. Yet others will feel I didn’t go far enough or that there’s some “fact” or conspiracy that I didn’t reveal. I’m not an ice cream cone. I can’t make everyone happy. Also, there may be some swearing.
What is OpSec?
Here’s a definition for those who aren’t familiar with the concept.
Operations security (OPSEC) is a process that identifies critical information to determine if friendly actions can be observed by enemy intelligence, determines if information obtained by adversaries could be interpreted to be useful to them, and then executes selected measures that eliminate or reduce adversary exploitation of friendly critical information.
In a more general sense, OPSEC is the process of protecting individual pieces of data that could be grouped together to give the bigger picture (called aggregation). OPSEC is the protection of critical information deemed mission-essential from military commanders, senior leaders, management or other decision-making bodies. The process results in the development of countermeasures, which include technical and non-technical measures such as the use of email encryption software, taking precautions against eavesdropping, paying close attention to a picture you have taken (such as items in the background), or not talking openly on social media sites about information on the unit, activity or organization’s Critical Information List. (source)
OpSec goes hand in hand with the gray man principle. Here’s Selco’s definition of being the gray man.
It is a simple concept that comes to be very important when SHTF, and it is often completely opposite to how a lot of preppers are planning to look or act.
In the shortest definition, it is staying uninteresting or simply looking and acting like most of the people around you in a particular moment.
It can be used in a lot of situations when SHTF, during prolonged periods of time, or during short-term events. (source)
As tensions increase dramatically in the United States, many people will find it more important than ever to practice these principles.
Extraordinary things are happening.
Over the past few years, the United States has become extremely polarized – so much so that violence can break out simply because two people or groups of people support different presidential candidates.
We’re seeing “othering” on an extraordinary level as Big Tech and the Mainstream Media throw gasoline on the raging dumpster fire that is our recent election. There’s a purge of conservative voices that goes beyond anything I’ve personally seen – way beyond the purge of alternative media a couple of years ago.
While Donald Trump is on his way out of the White House in just under two weeks, the fact remains that the two largest social media outlets in the world, Facebook and Twitter, have suspended the accounts of a sitting President of the United States. Now, they’re private businesses – they get to make their own rules and they’re protected from any legal fallout by Section 230, unlike the rest of us folks on the internet. However, the fact that they would take such an action is simply astounding in its audacity.
Go to a different outlet, you said? Well, that would be a great idea so we did. Conservatives and libertarians went to Parler in droves and the MSM sobbed into their lattes that it was a threat to democracy. And guess what else happened? Google effectively killed Parler today by removing the app from the store. José Castañeda, a Google spokesperson, said:
“In order to protect user safety on Google Play, our longstanding policies require that apps displaying user-generated content have moderation policies and enforcement that removes egregious content like posts that incite violence.
All developers agree to these terms and we have reminded Parler of this clear policy in recent months.
We’re aware of continued posting in the Parler app that seeks to incite ongoing violence in the U.S.
We recognize that there can be reasonable debate about content policies and that it can be difficult for apps to immediately remove all violative content, but for us to distribute an app through Google Play, we do require that apps implement robust moderation for egregious content.
In light of this ongoing and urgent public safety threat we are suspending the app’s listings from the Play Store until it addresses these issues.” (source)
Apple has also given Parler an ultimatum to either moderate content or get nuked there too.
And speaking of egregious things, the glaring double standard between the media coverage in Washington DC on Jan. 6th and the coverage of “protests” all over the country for the past year is particularly flagrant.
This blatant silencing of dissent is heinous and reminiscent of Communist China or North Korea. I mean, the DoJ did just revive the legality of firing squads. While we’re not currently being executed for dissenting opinions, people are losing their livelihoods, having their homes vandalized, and being ostracized. ABC News literally called for a cleansing of Trump supporters.
“Even aside from impeachment and 25th Amendment talk, Trump will be an ex-president in 13 days,” ABC’s Rick Klein and MaryAlice Parks wrote for The Note on Thursday. “The fact is that getting rid of Trump is the easy part. Cleansing the movement he commands, or getting rid of what he represents to so many Americans, is going to be something else.”
It now reads, “Cleaning up the movement he commands, or getting rid of what he represents to so many Americans, is going to be something else.”
Klein also shared the original phrase on Twitter before deleting it.(source)
Do they wish to “cleanse” all 74,223,744 people whose votes were considered official? It’s rather reminiscent of a recent hullabaloo when another guy on Twitter wanted to send Trump voters to re-education camps. (See #7 here.)
Incidentally – neither Klein’s account nor ABC News’s account were suspended by Twitter. Nor was that guy who wants to forcibly re-educate people. Just the President’s. Oh and a whole bunch of other people who had the audacity to be publicly supportive of him. But not those cleanser and re-education people. They’re cool.
Know what you’re getting yourself into before taking action.
If you’re anything like me, your initial reaction is, “F*ck this. I’ll say what I want.” I agree wholeheartedly that this is outrageous censorship on a massive scale, it’s virtual book-burning, and the double standard is utter bullsh*t and I’m furious about it.
But this is, first and foremost, a website about survival and preparedness. This is not a site about staging a revolution and I have really limited the coverage of politics since the 2016 election. I want it to be a place where everyone feels welcome to learn about preparedness and the events that affect us, regardless of their political beliefs, their religious beliefs, or which foot they put in their pants leg first.
There will be people out there who feel it is their duty to fight. There are people who support that and people who do not.
Unless you are making a conscious decision to get out there in the thick of the battle, imperiling your livelihood and risking ostracization due to cancel culture, it may be time for you to consider strengthening your OpSec. If you are going into this with your eyes open, then more power to you all.
Crackdowns like what we’re seeing now start with polarization and information blackouts. They can lead to far worse scenarios.
It is a situation where all stakes are much higher, and solutions-actions that the government ( ruling party, military leaders or whoever in your case) wants to achieve will be attempted with all means. That can include some new rules where what you think about it usually does not mean anything.
A lot of preppers think about “martial law” but in reality, they think about it still in normal terms, with rights, law, constitution, and rules…
You cannot defy military, at least not openly, because they will deal with you fast and efficiently. In times like that it is so easy to get labeled that you are dangerous, an enemy of the state, a terrorist or anything similar, and most probably you will not have any help.
Forget about the movie illusions of openly being a freedom fighter.
No matter how well-organized you are, those who impose martial law have better organization than you. Remember that martial law usually means an information blackout. “They” will own information and present it to the public the way that they want to present it. (source)
While I’m not suggesting we’re necessarily headed for martial law, we have stepped into a brand new world where our media is tightly controlled and our every decision or utterance can come back to haunt us.
Why do we need to focus more stringently on OpSec now?
I want to focus on the survival and preparedness aspects of this unbelievable situation we now find ourselves in.
As I’ve written before, survival is about surviving. Some people find this philosophy cowardly and feel we should all be willing to choose the hill of their choice to die upon. Others believe that it’s better to be strategic, live to fight another day, and choose their battles. This is a personal decision.
If you don’t wish to be involved in the political aspects of the things going on right now, if you want to quietly live out your life with limited conflict, and if your focus is on the safety of your family, you need to think about the information you are giving away about yourself. This is not just information for people of one political party or race. It’s for those who don’t want to be targeted because of their beliefs.
- Don’t make a visual statement. Do you have any political paraphernalia on display? Bumper stickers? Yard signs? Banners? T-shirts or hats?
- Avoid political conversations. Back when I was a kid, I was told that politics and religion were topics that were bad manners unless you were in the company of those you knew really well.
- Keep your preps under wraps. Trust me, when The Great Toilet Paper Crisis of 2021 happens – and it will – you don’t want to be the house with all the toilet paper that the guy repairing your furnace saw. Nobody needs to see your preps. Put things in cardboard boxes with misleading labels like “Christmas” if someone is going to be in the area where you store supplies. Don’t have shelves and shelves of canned goods out in your kitchen.
- Tighten your circle. If you thought 2020 was bad, 2021 is here and it’s old enough to drink. As expected, 2021 is not going to be a walk in the park. Selco recommends that the worse things become, the smaller your circle should be. Focus your efforts on the things you can control and your energy on the people in your inner circle.
- Remember what you learned about people. We learned a lot about how those around us handled stress during the first round of lockdowns. Don’t forget the lessons you learned about those in your circle, as well as what you discovered about friends, neighbors, and coworkers. A lot of folks were really surprised by the behavior of others when they were under stress. Think about who you really want to let in – this may have changed after the past year. Do your best to make sure that people are truly worthy of your trust.
- Be neutral on social media. Remember, the internet is forever. Even if you delete an ill-advised post, someone may have taken a screenshot or be able to find that post on the Wayback Machine. People don’t have to have the visible proof of those posts either to remember you dislike Trump or Biden, or that you’re super liberal or super conservative. Posting meme after meme expressing your adoration for certain political figures or beliefs is the digital equivalent of running your mouth in a crowded bar. You never know who’s watching or listening, nor do you know how that might come back to haunt you.
Don’t make yourself a target.
When people are hungry they’ll do things they might never have imagined doing before, like stealing food. Many of the jobs lost in 2020 are not going to be coming back in 2021, people are dealing with major financial problems, and we have supply chain issues. There’s a very real chance that we will see greater poverty in America happening to a greater number of people than we’ve ever seen in our lifetimes.
Those people will be wracking their brains trying to figure out how to survive. Don’t give them a reason to think of your place as a supply nirvana.
(If you are in that desperate position, check out this book – it’s free and it may help you make difficult decisions.)
When people are angry, they’ll also do things they normally would not and mob mentality is contagious. Take this former CEO, for example.
“My decision to enter the Capitol was wrong, and I am deeply regretful to have done so,” Rukstales said in a statement. “Without qualification and as a peaceful and law-abiding citizen, I condemn the violence and destruction that took place in Washington.”
Rukstales also apologized to his family, colleagues and “fellow countrymen” for his actions.
“It was the single worst personal decision of my life,” the exec’s statement continued. “I have no excuse for my actions and wish that I could take them back.” (source)
Don’t make yourself a target for the rage of people who aren’t behaving rationally. Your memes and banners and bumper stickers aren’t going to change their minds.
What are your thoughts?
What are your thoughts about the massive, high-level censorship? What are your suggestions for flying under the radar? Let’s discuss it (civilly, please) in the comments.