Hardening for Cybersecurity

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Electric cooperatives recognize the evolving cyber threat landscape that poses disruptions to the nation’s electric grid. As responsible power providers to our consumer-members, co-ops are taking proactive measures to secure the grid.

Cyber threats, ranging from phishing to compromised passwords, can potentially disrupt power reliability. That’s why electric co-ops are working to stay one step ahead by continually assessing vulnerabilities, monitoring emerging threats, and implementing cybersecurity defense measures.

Rob Weber, Eau Claire Energy

“We understand the critical role that our electric cooperatives play in powering hundreds of Wisconsin communities.

That is why we treat cyber security with the highest level of importance. From fostering a culture of cyber security in our employees to vigilantly monitoring devices, safeguarding our grid is always on the forefront of our minds. By taking these measures, we not only protect the reliability of our power supply but also uphold our commitment to the many communities that rely on us,” said Rob Weber, technology and member services manager at Eau Claire Energy Cooperative.

Electric co-ops are deploying advanced monitoring and protection systems that continuously analyze network traffic, detect suspicious activity, and alert security personnel to potential problems. Additionally, co-ops regularly practice security audits to identify vulnerabilities, assess risks, and implement necessary updates and patches to safeguard critical infrastructure.

Recognizing that cybersecurity is a team effort, electric co-ops regularly engage with other co-ops, industry organizations, government agencies, and cybersecurity experts to share best practices, develop lessons learned, and stay up to date on the latest threats. This kind of collaboration enables us to develop robust cybersecurity measures. Electric co-ops also participate in mutual aid efforts focused on cybersecurity events, such as the Cyber Mutual Assistance Program. By working together, we are stronger and better prepared.

Electric co-ops also understand the importance of educating all employees on the latest cybersecurity issues. We provide regular training to inform co-op staff on best practices and the significance of adhering to security protocols. By cultivating an internal culture of cybersecurity awareness, we are improving cyber knowledge and skills for co-op employees.

In addition to internal measures, co-ops establish dedicated cybersecurity points of contact so members can easily identify individuals to discuss cyber-related concerns. Co-op members are regularly targeted by energy scammers, whether through false claims, messages sent as emails, or phone scams from people falsely claiming to represent the co-op. By identifying and reporting these incidents, you can help keep our co-op community safe from cyber threats and scams.

Electric co-ops remain committed to providing reliable power to the members we serve. Our top priority is to keep your information secure and your lights on.

We will continue working hard to strengthen the grid, keep data safe, and ensure the long-term well-being of our local communities. In the face of increasing cyber threats, these proactive measures provide a foundation for a robust and secure electric grid.

Jennah Denney writes on consumer and cooperative affairs for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.

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