As October nears, we have more than just Public Power Week on our minds. October is also Cybersecurity Awareness Month, an effort co-led by the National Cybersecurity Alliance and the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). Now in its 19th year, the month is an opportunity for groups to come together to deploy resources and communications to help organizations and citizens stay cybersecure.
During these unstable geopolitical times we are living in, it’s more important than ever to be hyper-vigilant online. As community-owned utilities, public power has a special connection to its customers and an added motivation to help keep friends and neighbors cybersecure. That’s why this year the American Public Power Association has signed on to be a Cybersecurity Awareness Month “Champion.” This means we will be sharing some cyber awareness resources leading up to — and during — October, which you can then share with your employees and customers as appropriate.
This year, the focus is on four relatively easy actions that everyone can take — whether they are working in an electric utility control room or at home on a personal computer – to be more cybersecure. The four steps are:
- Enabling multi-factor authentication;
- Using strong passwords and a password manager;
- Regularly updating software; and
- Recognizing and reporting phishing attempts.
Whether the goal is to raise awareness with your utility employees or customers, there are many places you can go for resources. CISA, the Electricity Information Sharing and Analysis Center, and the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center all offer great materials and information to help your utility and/or your community on the cyber front. We have culled many of the resources most relevant for utilities onto our cybersecurity resources page, including some materials we created specifically to help public power strengthen its cybersecurity posture.
I strongly urge you to consider signing up your public power organization — for free — as a Cybersecurity Awareness Month Champion. Also, visit StaySafeOnline.org to learn more. Otherwise, stay tuned to APPA’s social media platforms and view some sample shareable social media resources as we share messaging on this critical topic.