Operations security, also known as “opsec,” is the practice of protecting sensitive information in the context of day-to-day business activities. It involves identifying the information that needs to be protected, and implementing measures to ensure that this information is kept secure. This may include using tools and technologies to secure data, as well as establishing policies and procedures for handling sensitive information.
One key aspect of operations security is awareness of how seemingly harmless disclosures of information can be used by attackers. For example, an employee who posts on social media about an upcoming company event may not realize that they are providing valuable information to potential attackers who are trying to gain access to the company’s network or steal sensitive data. By being aware of the potential risks of sharing certain types of information, individuals and organizations can take steps to protect themselves and their data.
Overall, operations security is an important practice for protecting sensitive information and minimizing the risk of data breaches. By implementing effective opsec measures, organizations can ensure that their information is kept secure and that they are better prepared to prevent and respond to potential threats.
The following are examples of operations security.
- Information Classification – A product development team that handles trade secrets develops a classification scheme for information and applies it to all documentation and communications.
- Information Security Awareness Training – An organization requires all employees to take information security awareness training that examines memorable test cases whereby social processes allowed information to be disclosed that enabled security attacks.
- Encryption – Encrypting all data in storage and transit on all devices.
- Conversation Policies – Policies that prevent employees from discussing confidential business outside of secured locations.
- Secure Locations – Mergers & acquisition talks that take place at a private location provided by advising banks. Talks may be confined to a single room with a focus on using paper documents that can’t be removed from the room.
- Data Relationships – A customer is cautious about giving out their mobile phone number because they are aware that this can be used as a key to pull up data about them.
- Legal – A bank considers privacy policies and information security capabilities in the selection of technologies and services.
- Reputation – A customer considers the reputation of a telecom provider in protecting customer privacy.
- Clean Desk – An organization requires employees to keep desks free of paper and lock up devices when they aren’t attended.
- Tools – A small business runs untrusted programs and web browsers in a sandbox tool that confines information security attacks to a virtual environment.
- Social Media – A bank advises customers to avoid disclosing information in social media that is commonly used in security checks to confirm identify.
- Communications – A bank advises customers to contact them immediately if they do not receive bank statements in the mail.
- Web Forgery – An insurance company asks clients to report websites that use similar web addresses and visual symbols of the company such as logos.
- Internet of Things – A business avoids purchasing non-essential internet connected devices that contain sensors that may compromise security.
- Devices – A confidential meeting conducted by a standards organization asks that participants leave devices that are internet connected such as watches outside the room.
- Incident Reporting – A sales team is trained to immediately report potential security breaches such as loss of a mobile device or accidental click on a suspicious email link.
- Regulations – A government establishes laws and regulations that prevent telecom companies from selling data about customers such as monitored communications, location and sensor data.