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Digital technologies and smart devices are facilitating greater information sharing by allowing people (and devices) to more efficiently communicate with each other. Internet-connected devices not only better enable us to stay in touch with loved ones, they simplify and streamline our lives by communicating with each other. But greater connectivity comes with a cost.

Addressing the persistent and evolving reality of cyber threats is important for individuals and organizations alike. The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) recently launched RC3, the Rural Cooperative Cybersecurity Capabilities program, to help electric cooperatives build stronger cybersecurity programs. With funding from the U.S. Department of Energy, RC3 is developing tools to help cooperatives develop a culture of cybersecurity. 

Electric cooperatives are investing time and resources to build stronger cyber defenses and increase their resiliency to cyberattacks. As co-ops ramp up capabilities in the beneficial use of digital technologies, they are integrating best practices to safeguard consumer data and grid operations from cyberattacks.

Electric co-ops are responding to the challenge, but are you? Taking steps to protect your home network and devices from cyberattacks will save you time and money in the long run. 

Tips to beef up your personal cybersecurity:

  • Make sure you have antivirus software installed on your computer and keep it updated.
  • Don’t send e-mails containing personal information, like your date of birth or Social Security Number. 
  • If you enter a credit card number online make sure that it’s a secure website. A secure site will begin with “https://” in the web address.
  • Attachments or links in an email can contain malware that can infect your computer. Never open an e-mail attachment or click a link unless you know the person sending it, and you were expecting them to send it to you (hackers can take over an account and make it look like it’s from a friend).
  • Always use a different password for each account and use a combination of numbers, special characters and lowercase and capital letters.  

Kaley Lockwood writes on consumer and cooperative affairs for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.

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