Minimizing Your Digital Footprint
This guide provides the background and reasoning for individuals involved in national security activities or hold a security clearance to careful control and monitor their internet digital profile to ensure they do not unintentionally increase the risk of an unfavorable security adjudication,
IntroductionIndividuals who hold security clearances have long been aware that their background will be periodically investigated generally based upon information disclosed on a security investigation questionnaire (SF86) or electronic questionnaire (eQIP) which describes in great detail where they have lived, prior employers, spouses, relatives, education, military service, criminal records, financial credit histories, medical and emotional treatments, and a variety of other information as well as being subjected to a specific national agency check, criminal history inquiries and credit checks. Historically, this has generally been adequate to fully describe an individual's background and to identify potential derogatory information which may be disqualifying. Some security accesses go further through the use of the polygraph during examinations which may include full lifestyle or be limited to counterintelligence.
Risks in the Digital WorldAs a result of recent classified information compromises as well as other insider threat situations, the government has elected to shrink the reevaluation periods by implementing a continuous evaluation process as well as to use of social media and public databases to garner further supplement information concerning an individual suitability to obtain or retain a security clearance. The growth of the Internet and explosion of smart phones, tablets and laptop capabilities have extended and simplified an individual's reach into the digitally wired world. This has created a parallel electronic identity and detailed digital behavior profile for each individual to include electronic communications and association with other individuals, seeking information on a variety of subjects, as well as interacting with all that the Internet may offer. A small number of clicks are all that is required to transition from a legitimate lawful Internet activity to a darker Internet world which may involve criminal activity to include child pornography, terrorism, creation of devices of mass destruction, and a whole host of questionable, illegal or antisocial activities. Someone originally engaged in innocent Internet activity may unknowingly connect to an individual with sinister or criminal intentions or past or present illegal behavior. An individual can instantly connect with the same relative ease with his or her neighbor down the street as unknowingly connecting to a criminal or terrorist associate or enterprises anywhere in the world.