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|The examples and perspective in this article deal primarily with the United States and do not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (April 2013)|
Operations security (OPSEC) is a term originating in US military jargon, as a process that identifies critical information to determine if friendly actions can be observed by adversary intelligence systems, 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.
Though the above statement is true in its official military format, OPSEC is the process of protecting little pieces of data that could be grouped together to give the bigger picture. OPSEC is the protecting of critical information deemed mission essential from military commanders. Protecting this critical information is through the use of email encryption software, being careful of who may be listening to you (like in a hotel bar), paying close attention to a picture you have taken (back ground), or not talking openly on social media sites about information on the unit's critical information list (military deployments, shortages of equipment or movement of VIPs).
In more modern usage, the term has come to have a similar meaning including protecting information from unfriendly eyes, including industrial espionage, hackers, or social engineering.
An OPSEC assessment is an intensive application of the OPSEC process to an existing operation or activity by a multidisciplined team of experts. Assessments are essential for identifying requirements for additional OPSEC measures and for making necessary changes in existing OPSEC measures. Additionally, OPSEC planners, working closely with Public Affairs personnel, must develop the Essential Elements of Friendly Information (EEFI) used to preclude inadvertent public disclosure of critical or sensitive information.
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