While Tennessee’s electric cooperatives keep the data they collect to a minimum, they must gather some personal information about their consumer-owners in order to responsibly conduct business. Our commitment to keeping information secure is more important than ever before — particularly since cyberthreats against critical infrastructure like electric utilities have increased significantly over the past several years.
The fact is, the only completely secure system is one that is not connected to a network. Since network connectivity is an essential part of doing business in today’s world, our job is to strike a balance between security and usability. We take this responsibility very seriously, and we work to protect personal information and guard against cyber intrusions.
In recent years, we have made investments to protect the security of the data we manage and the reliability of the power grid. We provide training for co-op employees to increase their awareness of cybersecurity issues, including keeping them alert to the risks posed by the efforts of bad actors to infiltrate our systems.
As we strive to maintain vigilance, I urge you to do your part to thwart cybercrime. Here are some simple steps you can take to reduce your risk of scams, hacks and breaches:
Protect your systems and data
Keep software up to date, and install a reputable antivirus program. Create a strong and unique passphrase for each of your online accounts, and change them regularly. Don’t open any attachments unless you are expecting the file, document or invoice and have verified the sender’s email address.
Protect your connections
Use caution when connecting to a public Wi-Fi network, and never conduct purchases or sensitive transactions when on a public network. Avoid using free charging stations; bad actors have figured out ways to introduce malware and monitoring software onto devices that access these USB ports.
Protect your money and information
Carefully examine the email address in all correspondence, and scrutinize website URLs. Scammers can mimic a legitimate site or email address by using a slight variation in spelling. Never click a link in an unsolicited text message or email that asks you to update or verify your account information. Scrutinize all electronic requests for payments or transfer of funds. Be extra suspicious of any message that urges immediate action. If you are unsure whether a message is truly from your electric cooperative, call the co-op office directly to confirm.
Sometimes, despite our very best efforts, the worst can happen. If you are the victim of an online or internet-enabled crime, immediately file a report with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at ic3.gov.