Defense Department Issues Opsec Guidelines For Safe And Secure Pokemon Hunting

from the pokemon-go:-now-literally-played-by-everyone dept

Given the cultural phenomenon that is Pokemon Go, it was only a matter of time before security-conscious government agencies would be forced to confront the inevitable: that their employees would be joining in the quasi-AR madness.

Kristan J. Wheaton of the Sources and Methods blog was handed an apparently official document from the Defense Department that lays down several common sense rules for employees throwing imaginary balls at imaginary creatures. (A screenshot of the original document can be seen in Thomas Rid’s tweet, embedded at the bottom of this post.)

One of my contacts (Thanks!) within the intel community put together a tip sheet for friends and family and, having read it, it sounds like good advice for anyone who wants to play Pokemon Go with a reasonable level of safety and privacy. Remember, it is a tip sheet and is designed to be helpful, not comprehensive. If it is not covered here, just remember D2S2 – Don’t Do Stupid Stuff.

Considering the source, the list of do’s and do not do’s is straightforward and on point. And, as Wheaton points out, good advice for anyone playing the game, not just those with high-level security clearances chasing down rarities behind CIA filing cabinets.

In short, make sure you’re downloading the authentic application, be aware your location will be recorded, and — more importantly, given the nature of DoD components — the photos taken during Pokemon hunts might accidentally reveal something meant to stay hidden.

Be mindful of your surroundings when using this augmented reality (AR) mobile game, especially when taking pictures of Pokemon during the capture process. Note what’s in the foreground and background, including reflective surfaces and information revealing identity and or location (street signs, vehicle license plates, Government buildings, etc.). Disabling AR makes Pokemon easier to catch! The location where you take a picture of a Pokemon is also likely embedded in the picture’s metadata.

In addition, the DoD suggests employees use something other than their personal Google account to log in and to select usernames that do not reflect their IRL names.

Some classic military-industrial complex paranoia surfaces in the penultimate bullet point, however.

When physically visiting Pokestops and gyms, maintain awareness of your surroundings. Travel with a buddy or remain in your vehicle with the doors locked. It is not necessary to physically enter the real-world establishment where a Pokestop or gym is located, you may be able to interact with the Pokestop/gym from the curb or even across the street.

While there have been reports of strongarm robberies at bogus Pokestops, the whole “situational awareness” vibe adds far more cloak-and-dagger than seems absolutely necessary.

The full list at Wheaton’s blog is worth a read, though, whether you’re a normal citizen or a DC insider neck deep in redacted drone strike reports/Rattatas.

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Comments on “Defense Department Issues Opsec Guidelines For Safe And Secure Pokemon Hunting”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Pokemon Go is like Facebook ..

Some people think it is dumb and I can understand their reasoning but on the other hand it is the first time in a long time that I have seen a lot of people out and about. Most have been friendly and respectful. Yes, there are dumb people doing dumb things but survival of the fittest will weed them out quickly. Overall, win/win.

Jeffrey Nonken (profile) says:

Re: Re: Pokemon Go is like Facebook ..

Yeah… started by downloading it out of curiosity — the kids were playing it. Next thing you know, I’m wandering around outside work during a break. You know; on foot. Realized it was more exercise than I’d gotten in a while…

I figured, what the hell, let’s roll with it.

Now I’ve got my bicycle out and working, new head- and taillights on order, spare phone power bank and chargers. No plans to stop just yet; quite the contrary.

As for wandering into traffic and such… I grew up in a time and place and with parents who taught me to pay attention. Because the laws of physics laugh at the laws of man.

Skeeter says:

Two Thoughts on Pokemon Go

1. Is the NSA concern about Pokemon related to possible EXIF Metadata showing sensitive information their real concern?

2. Is the NSA actually troubled about how this ‘addictive’ game could distract everyone from that global ‘fear-mongering’ they have been trying to build towards recently, thus defusing their ‘hard work’ otherwise?

Let’s not forget the overlying issue – that this shows just how many sheeple there are in America, to those of us who don’t chase little fantasies like children while in public.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Here, got this from where I work:

“Pokémon Go is a geo-mapping app in which all of the information including imagery ‘collected’ by the players’ smart phone is uploaded to a central database. Players are basically acting as collectors for Google Earth, providing high-quality video of sites that are normally off-limits to Google Earth ground cameras. Please refrain from playing in Building XX. An official statement should be coming out shortly. It is not unlikely that the app will be banned from the Center as well.”

Sounds much more like the typical coocoo clock of paranoia I’m used to.

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