Co-ops cooperate on cybersecurity

Electric cooperatives share cybersecurity information with each other and industry partners as they work collaboratively to protect and secure the grid from cyberattacks. October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, a collaborative effort between the Department of Homeland Security and various industries—including electric cooperatives—to raise awareness about the importance of cybersecurity and ensure all Americans have the resources needed to be safer and more secure online.

“Cybersecurity is critical to what Great River Energy does as it maintains and operates the grid,” said Marc Child, information security program manager at Great River Energy.

The cooperative participates as a cybersecurity industry leader, gives cooperatives a voice in a program sponsored by the Department of Energy (DOE) and shares lessons learned with its member-owner cooperatives.

Industry partner and leader

Child is co-chair of a membership advisory committee for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s (NRECA) RC3 program, which focuses on cybersecurity. Co-ops around the nation participate in providing their expertise and experience to others.

Together with NRECA, they work on providing input and development of cybersecurity assessments. Great River Energy was among the first, along with a few of its member-owner cooperatives, to participate in the cybersecurity assessment as a pilot project. The online version of that project is expected to be released soon.

Sharing the cooperative voice at the DOE

Great River Energy has been a member of the Cybersecurity Risk Information Sharing Program (CRISP) for the last five years. During the first four years, Great River Energy was the only cooperative that participated in the DOE-sponsored program. CRISP is a data sharing and analysis platform that identifies threat information among energy sector stakeholders.

Cooperation among co-ops

Among its member-owners, Great River Energy facilitates deep collaboration. One of the ways it does this for cybersecurity is through the security information sharing team (IST). The security IST is a platform where member-owner cooperatives of Great River Energy can come together to discuss their successes and failures in security practices. This allows all cooperatives the opportunity to learn from each other and to increase security practices.