Cooperative cybersecurity

As cybersecurity threats continue to grow, 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, this creates additional opportunities for threat actors to target our systems.  

These co-ops are coming together to fight back and add resiliency to the electric grid. When it comes to cybersecurity, cooperation among cooperatives happens in many ways. 

Electric co-ops work with each other, their local generation and transmission cooperatives, statewide organizations, and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the national trade association for electric cooperatives. Together, they’re leading efforts to establish relationships, provide tools, and share resources and training information to improve the overall cyber landscape. 

You can help, too. Good cyber hygiene is equally important at home. Just like grid technology continues to expand, so does the connected home. With smart technologies integrated into many homes, whether smart speakers or connected appliances, it’s essential to take steps to protect devices and personal data. Here are examples of what to do.

Enable multi-factor or two-factor authentication on online accounts. This layer of security allows websites and apps to confirm you’re really who you say you are. By adding this step, you’re making it harder for hackers to access your accounts. 

Use secure passwords. Use unique passwords for all your accounts and ensure they are at least 15 characters long. Randomly generated passwords are typically more secure. Consider using a password manager.

Think before you click. Be careful when clicking links or opening attachments. This is one of the most important ways to protect yourself against scammers and hackers. 

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