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Electric Members: Warning about hotel reservations for American Public Power Association events

Posted By IAMU, Wednesday, September 4, 2019

The American Public Power Association (APPA) wanted to alert members that a company has been contacting attendees of APPA’s events and offering assistance with hotel reservations (specifically for the 2020 National Conference in Long Beach, but they may reach out about other events). 

An APPA member was contacted via email from a company calling itself “Conventioneers, LLC,” with a promotion code and links purportedly to make reservations at various hotels in Long Beach. 

This company is not affiliated with APPA and does not represent the organization. Please do NOT make hotel reservations through this third party or any third party claiming to work with the APPA on hotel room blocks. If they call or email you, do not respond. It might be a scam.

APPA works hard to negotiate discounted room blocks at hotels for all of its conferences and when you reserve from these blocks, it helps the APPA to keep conference rates affordable for you. APPA never contracts with third parties to sell these rooms to you. 

Please remember to only use the online reservation links, phone numbers and codes available on the APPA website for each conference or event under the “Hotel” tab.

If you are planning to attend the 2020 National Conference, please note that registration and the hotel room block will open in January. Information will be posted at www.PublicPower.org/NationalConference when it opens.

If you have any questions, please email us at EducationInfo@PublicPower.org, or call the APPA at 202.467-2900.

Tags:  APPA  Electric 

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Iowa Utilities Are Ready to Help Hurricane Dorian Restoration Efforts If Needed

Posted By IAMU, Wednesday, September 4, 2019

As the country continues to watch the path of Hurricane Dorian, the Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities (IAMU) continues to participate in daily conference calls through the American Public Power Association’s Mutual Aid Working Group. Municipal electric utilities across Florida and other parts of the Southeast put out a call for mutual aid ahead of the impending storm, and IAMU has members on stand-by to deploy if help is needed.

The Iowa crews that offered to respond with eight total electric lineworkers and equipment were from the following systems:

  • Sioux Center Municipal Utilities
  • Sibley Municipal Utilities
  • Muscatine Power and Water
  • Eldridge Electric Utility

IAMU and the volunteering utilities will continue to monitor the storm and deploy if need be. If no assistance is needed, the volunteering utilities will eventually be released.

We are still early in the hurricane season. There likely will be more events for which IAMU will reach out to members, asking for assistance.

Tags:  APPA  Hurricane Dorian  Mutual Aid 

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New Risk Assessment and Emergency Response Plan Requirements and Tools Overview Webinar

Posted By IAMU, Friday, August 30, 2019

From EPA Water Security Division (via Region 7), 8/28/2019

 “EPA will host an overview webinar to provide participants with a quick introduction to the new risk assessment and emergency response plan requirements. Participants will also learn about the updated Vulnerability Self-Assessment Tool Web 2.0 and Emergency Response Plan Guidance, Template and Instructions.

Date and time: September 5, 2019 from noon - 1:30 PM CDT

Registration link

Notes: This webinar is related to the AWIA Risk Assessment and Emergency Plan requirements for systems serving more than 3,300 people, including consecutives.  Further information on those requirements is available at EPA's website.  

Example ERP Template in MS-Word: At the bottom of the website is the ERP Template in .pdf.  There is also an MS-Word version that is available by first downloading the .pdf, then clicking on the box in the middle right side of page 2 entitled "AWIA ERP Template."  That will open an MS-Word document that can be used. 

Tags:  EPA  Water 

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Be Sure to Register for the Insurance 101 Webinar Series

Posted By IAMU, Wednesday, August 28, 2019

IAMU will be hosting a series of free insurance-related webinars this fall. During each webinar, Jester’s Heith Hockenberry will review a few of the different coverages that IAMU members should purchase as part of their insurance coverage.

There is no charge to attend, but registration is required. To register, go to www.iamu.org > Events > Register For An Event (Scroll through the calendar and register for one or more webinars). You will need to register for each webinar individually.

The dates, times, and topics for the webinars are:

  • Sept. 26 – 1-2 p.m.: Property and Inland Marine (equipment)
  •  Oct. 28 – 1-2 p.m.: General Liability, Public Officials, Law Enforcement & Umbrella
  •  Nov. 18 – 2-3 p.m.: Auto (Physical Damage & Liability) and Crime
  •  Dec. 16 – 1-2 p.m. (Cyber)

Tags:  Insurance 101  Jester Insurance  Webinar 

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Ransomware: Is Your System Prepared for an Attack?

Posted By IAMU, Tuesday, August 27, 2019

On Aug. 16, more than 20 entities in Texas reported a ransomware attack with the majority of these entities being smaller local governments. The evidence gathered indicates the attacks came from one-single threat actor. If this happened in your community, are your prepared? Do you know how to respond?

If you are a member of the IAMU Safety Group Insurance Group, you can get coverage for such an event. Currently, only about 20% of all safety group members purchase the coverage. If your utility or municipality doesn’t currently have such coverage, be sure to ask your agent for more information.

According to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), ransomware has rapidly emerged as the most visible cybersecurity risk playing out across the nation’s networks, locking up private-sector organizations and government agencies alike. And that’s only what is seen – many more infections are going unreported, ransoms are being paid, and the vicious ransomware cycle continues. Organizations are strongly urged to consider ransomware infections as destructive attacks, not an event where you can simply pay off the bad guys and regain control of your network.

According to CISA, ransomware is a type of malicious software, or malware, designed to deny access to a computer system or data until a ransom is paid. Ransomware typically spreads through phishing emails or by unknowingly visiting an infected website. Ransomware can be devastating to an individual or an organization. Anyone with important data stored on their computer or network is at risk, including government or law enforcement agencies and healthcare systems or other critical infrastructure entities. Recovery can be a difficult process that may require the services of a reputable data recovery specialist, and some victims pay to recover their files. However, there is no guarantee that individuals will recover their files if they pay the ransom.

Helping organizations protect themselves from ransomware attacks is a chief priority for the CISA. The agency has assisted many ransomware response and recovery efforts, building an understanding of how ransomware attacks unfold, and what potential steps can be taken to better defend systems. But there is also a recognition that there’s no such thing as perfect cybersecurity, and ransomware infections can still happen. The agency has also developed recommendations to help organizations limit damage and recover smartly and effectively.

RANSOMWARE MITIGATIONS TO HELP YOU DEFEND TODAY AND SECURE TOMORROW

The CISA recommendations outline three sets of straightforward steps any organization can take to manage their risk. These recommendations are written broadly for all levels within an organization. It is never as easy as it should be, so if your organization needs help, the agency urges you to reach out for assistance – CISA is here to help, but so is the FBI, numerous private sector security firms, state authorities, and others.

  1. Backup your data, system images, and configurations and keep the backups offline.

  2. Update and patch systems.

  3. Make sure your security solutions are up to date.

  4. Review and exercise your incident response plan.

  5. Pay attention to ransomware events and apply lessons learned.

Actions to Recover If Impacted – Don’t Let a Bad Day Get Worse

  1. Ask for help. Contact IAMU immediately. You may reach Russ Saffell, Director of Member Security & Critical Infrastructure Protection at 515.289.1999 or 515.988.8686 (cell).

  2. Isolate the infected systems and phase your return to operations

  3. Review the connections of any business relationships (customers, partners, vendors) that touch your network

  4. Apply business impact assessment findings to prioritize recovery.

Actions to Secure Your Environment Going Forward – Don’t Let Yourself be an Easy Mark

  1. Practice good cyber hygiene; backup, update, whitelist apps, limit privilege, and use multifactor authentication.

  2. Segment your networks; make it hard for the bad guy to move around and infect multiple systems.

  3. Develop containment strategies; if bad guys get in, make it hard for them to get stuff out

  4. Know your system’s baseline for recovery.

  5. Review disaster recovery procedures and validate goals with executives.

For more information on ransomware, visit the CISA Resource Page on Ransomware (www.us-cert.gov/Ransomware). Victims of ransomware should report it immediately to CISA at www.us-cert.gov/report, a local FBI Field Office, or Secret Service Field Office.

Tags:  Cyber Security  Randsomware 

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