Digital technologies are allowing electric cooperatives to improve service to members in countless ways. Smart grid communications and remote access or automated control equipment enable more cost-effective, efficient, and safer options to manage our systems.
But greater connectivity comes with a cost.
We are collecting more data and moving it in new and complicated ways. Digital communications, for all their benefits, also create openings for cybercriminals, and our data is an attractive commodity.
As cooperatives ramp up capabilities in the beneficial use of digital technologies, they must also integrate best practices to safeguard consumer data and grid operations from cyberattacks.
To this end, NRECA launched RC3, the Rural Cooperative Cybersecurity Capabilities program, to help distribution cooperatives address the persistent and evolving reality of cyber threats. One co-op general manager told us, “If you create a strong culture around security, you can prevent 95 percent of the risks of a bad guy getting in.” With funding from the U.S. Department of Energy, RC3 is developing tools and resources to help cooperatives develop that culture of cybersecurity.
The good news is that effective cybersecurity at the distribution level does not take a massive financial investment. In this RE Magazine Cybersecurity insert, we pay particular attention to how small- and medium-size distribution systems are meeting cybersecurity challenges. It takes planning and commitment, from the board of directors and from every employee, to make cybersecurity a permanent priority and an essential element in utility operations.
Cooperatives cooperate. It’s what we do. And in the following pages, we share key observations, solutions, and successes of dozens of co-op officials. A critical component of our success as a community to deter and mitigate cyberthreats will be our inclination to share information and collaborate. This is our strength.
Main Story: Cyber Cooperation
Defense in Depth: Who Should have Access?
Human Resources’ Role in Cybersecurity
Defending Your Co-op’s Network: Options and Resources to Help
Taking Stock: A New Tool to Assess Cybersecurity
Cybersecurity Research at NRECA: Resources and More