Co-op News

Cooperative cybersecurity

By Justin Luebbert October 2022

Defending the grid together

Photo by Garrett Hubbard

As cybersecurity threats continue to grow both at home and in the workplace, it’s important to know what we can do as individuals, how we can work with others and measures we can take to reduce our risk of cyber threats. October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month — but good cyber hygiene should be practiced year-round.

Electric co-ops are guided by seven cooperative principles. One of these principles, “Cooperation Among Cooperatives,” has never been more important as it pertains to protecting and defending our nation’s electric grid from cyberattacks. As the grid evolves and new technologies emerge, additional opportunities for risks to our systems arise.  

Electric cooperatives are fighting back and adding resiliency to the electric grid, working together with their local Generation and Transmission (G&T) cooperatives, statewide organizations and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), the national trade association for electric cooperatives. Together, they’re leading efforts to establish relationships, provide tools and share resources and training information to harden and improve the overall cyber landscape. 

With smart technologies integrated into many of our homes, whether it be a smart speaker or a connected appliance, it’s essential to take steps to protect our devices and personal data. Here are a few cybersecurity tips you can implement at home:

  • Enable multi-factor or two-factor authentication for your online accounts. This extra layer of security allows websites and applications to confirm you’re really who you say you are. The additional authentication may come in many forms, including a confirmation text code on your phone, an email or even a separate authenticator app. By adding this second step, you’re making it a lot harder for hackers to access your accounts. 
  • Use secure passwords. Create unique passwords for all your accounts and ensure they are at least 15 characters long. Randomly generated passwords or passphrases are typically more secure. You might also consider using some type of password manager. 
  • Think before you click. One of the most important ways to protect yourself against scammers and hackers is to be careful when clicking links or opening attachments. If you receive a text message or email that seems too good to be true, threatens negative consequences for not taking immediate action or displays a sense of urgency, take extra precaution. If an email looks like it came from a friend or co-worker, but it seems odd, pick up the phone and check with the person before opening any links or attachments.

We all have a part to play in combatting cyber threats. Electric cooperatives and their local and national partners will continue working together to advance cybersecurity defenses for all co-op members and the local communities they serve. 

Categories: Co-op NewsTech

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