In an increasingly digitally interconnected world, cybersecurity is a top priority for your cooperative and for the electric utility industry as a whole. Technology has improved nearly every segment of daily life, including a smarter grid. But along with the benefits comes the need to safeguard member/consumer information and power grid operations.
At Blue Ridge Energy, we have a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy that begins with three key initiatives:
1. Secure Member Data
Our members’ personal data is very important to us at Blue Ridge. For instance, Blue Ridge Energy (including our subsidiaries) does not store credit card data. When members elect to save it, we use a process called “tokenization” to identify the card number using a unique code known only to us and the payment processor (such as Visa® and Mastercard®). The card number is never saved/stored on our systems.
2. Secure Our Systems
Blue Ridge Energy maintains over 100 unique systems to offer services and reliable electricity to our members. Each system comes with a new set of cyber risks. We mitigate cybersecurity risks by employing a multi-layered “zero trust” approach; utilizing technology such as firewalls and intrusion protection systems. We also leverage third-party cybersecurity firms to analyze our networks and systems in real time — protecting and alerting employees of abnormalities 24 hours a day.
3. Secure The Grid
As the electric grid evolves with technology, the new ‘smart grid’ brings a whole new set of cyber risks. Blue Ridge’s multi-layered approach to cybersecurity, along with physical security measures, protects our grid that serves each and every one of our homes. Ensuring the lights stay on is the top priority for line technicians AND every other employee at Blue Ridge Energy.
Cybersecurity is a never-ending job. Criminal hackers and other threats, combined with fast-paced technology advances, make cybersecurity like the Wild West! It’s a rapidly changing world and we must adapt and evolve with adversaries coming from all around the world.
We believe the best defense is a strong offense, especially when it comes to cybersecurity. I can assure you that your cooperative is well prepared and constantly hardening our cybersecurity initiative to ensure the protection of member information, your cooperative and the electric grid from cyber threats.