Technology breaches— think customer credit card data being stolen from Target or consumer data being stolen from Experian—have become more commonplace, ushering in a new reality of increased security measures and constant monitoring of organizational and personal data to ensure our identities, credit card numbers or bank accounts have not been compromised.

At Palmetto Electric, we emphasize to our employees that keeping systems secure is not solely the responsibility of information technology employees. Rather, it is incumbent on every individual to do their part to keep our members’ and our organization’s data safe from potential breaches.

It can seem a little overwhelming at times, and the idea that the next threat is always lurking around the corner can be stressful. But there are things you can do to protect your personal data.

Keep your defenses up!

  • Make sure all your computer software—including your web browser—are updated with the latest software. Keeping software up-to- date ensures security patches being deployed can succeed in blocking security threats.
  • Create a strong password and keep it private—it could take up to two centuries to crack a password consisting of 12 characters or more!
  • Treat all Wi-Fi networks as a potential security risk. Encrypt sensitive data when using a public
    Wi-Fi network. And never check financial or other sensitive accounts when using public Wi-Fi.

Don’t fall for a fake!

  • Be on the lookout for emails, phone calls and other messages that try to get to secure data. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If something seems off, trust your instinct and ignore the message.
  • Don’t click on links or attached files in emails or text messages from senders you don’t know. Even if you do know the sender, hover over the link before you click as they may have been hacked or someone could be spoofing them! There are many ways to spot a fake, and you can visit to see them all.

Co-ops are working together

Electric co-ops nationwide—with the Department of Energy and National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA)—are working together, through the RC3 Program, to better protect us from security threats. From the smallest co-op with limited access to technology staff to the largest co-op with greater resources, NRECA and America’s electric cooperatives are creating a co-op network that fosters a culture of cybersecurity.

What we tell our employees is true for members, too: Whether keeping your data safe at home, at work or on the go, you are the first line of defense against cyber security threats!

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