As the COVID-19 coronavirus has upended life, we’ve had to become adaptive to a new, physically distant way of life. Many NISC Members are taking on new tasks and doing business differently than ever before. We know it’s been hectic transitioning to this new situation that is anything but the norm, and we are committed to helping you during this time. As you work to serve your customers and members, we continue to seek out new ways to help you. We’re excited to announce a new resource for you on the NISC Community, the COVID-19 Solutions Resource HQ, dedicated to providing helpful solution and training information, news and best practices as you continue to navigate COVID-19. The page also features a special Member Think Tank section for you to engage with your peers, start discussions and share ideas of how you're supporting your communities during this time. This will be a living space, and we will continue to update it with new content as we evaluate ways we can provide further value to you. Thank you for continuing to keep your communities connected. We want to underscore our commitment to serving you during this time and encourage you to contact us if you have any questions. We are stronger together.
In light of the current COVID-19 pandemic and urgency to setup employee offices at home for the foreseeable future, it is imperative no one lets their guard down. Security protections that have been put in place exist to provide a hedge between good and evil, trusted and untrusted. When we move employees to an untrusted place, such as a home office, we must either fortify the new location or leave what would otherwise be vulnerable services within the trusted environment. With PCI compliance, that is every bit the case. Fortunately, NISC's e-commerce solutions allow customers to make payments to those avenues without compromising your PCI compliance or their cardholder data (CHD). Directing customers to these solutions maintains continuity with already-in-place solutions and does not require you to compromise your PCI compliance or put extra strain on employees or your network. Even with setting up Verifone to connect to the office network to take payments, which keeps the computer network out of PCI scope, accepting a call over the phone means that phone system (Cell phone? Forwarded call? VOIP over VPN?) is in PCI scope, as is already often the case. The CHD is still transmitted over the phone which is then brought into PCI scope. If you decide to use a SmartHub CSR login or Virtual Terminal, the computer would be in PCI scope just as it would if you were in the office. Using remote desktop protocol (RDP) or a thin client like a Citrix workstation would help minimize exposure - but remember the potential for keyboard logging and even memory scraping would be a concern. Applicable PCI requirements are still in full effect. The following is from a respected PCI QSA who blogged [...]
We hope you, our Members, always know that NISC is here to support you. Now, with recent events surrounding COVID-19, that promise is no different. We’ve seen many of you this week working to help your members and customers utilize technology in new ways. Now more than ever we are feeling grateful for technology that connects us and allows us to accomplish our daily tasks quickly and efficiently. SmartHub has been one of those helpful tools for years now, but with many utility and telecom sites temporarily closing, more and more of your members and customers will be turning to solutions like these to ensure they can continue completing tasks like paying their bills. We have a variety of resources available to help you educate your end users on SmartHub. Just visit www.smarthubkit.com (Community login required) to find helpful social media graphics and text, videos and more. This week, we also created a new video for our Members to use to continue spreading the word about SmartHub and how it can help in times like this. Feel free to download, share out on your social media accounts and send to your customers. At NISC, our main focus continues to be supporting you during this time. If there is anything we can do to help, please do not hesitate to contact us. We’re in this together.
With a global pandemic at the forefront of our mind, it is also a prime opportunity for hackers to attempt to exploit the situation. As our focus is on the effects of the virus on our businesses, our communities and our families, our overall cyber guard could be down simply due to distraction and a little ingenuity on the criminals’ behalf. Much like the recommendation to take a little longer washing your hands, it is imperative all take a little longer when checking your email or browsing online. Malware Disguised as an Information ToolThere have already been instances of successful malware deployment while disguising itself as information about the pandemic. Coronavirusmap.com.exe is a real time map that pulls information from the CDC about cases of the coronavirus and visually illustrates the impact. However, this map also steals information from your browser. It is imperative to ensure your sources are legitimate and secure. Read more at Hacker News: Beware of 'Coronavirus Maps' – It's a malware infecting PCs to steal passwords. Preying on the Charitable SpiritPeople may also use this global situation as an opportunity to raise funds to help those affected by COVID-19. As with the widespread fires in Australia, both legitimate and illegitimate campaigns have emerged. Criminals have started up GoFundMe pages promising to donate 100% of the contributions to aid the relief efforts – only for the money to just disappear. While raising funds for those impacted is always welcome, a little bit of research into the credibility of the campaign is key to ensuring the funds are truly getting to those in need. Read more about charitable giving and other concerns in the recent Secret Service’s release. The NISC Cybersecurity Services Team [...]
We were honored to again showcase some of the incredible #WomenofNISC this year through our International Women’s Day video series. We’re proud to have so many talented, driven and diverse women at NISC across each of our divisions and in leadership roles. Thank you for following along with us this week on social media. Click on the videos to hear each woman’s unique story:
Security is a priority at NISC, and a big part of securing our solutions means protecting passwords. You’ve likely been a part of a scenario where you’ve had to change your password due to a possible breach, whether it’s through a big chain store or a social media site. At NISC, we’re constantly working to ensure the security of NISC solutions is as up-to-date as possible. As part of that security effort, we are making some changes to how login credentials are stored for the SmartHub web and mobile application. Starting this month, NISC has moved from storing encrypted SmartHub passwords in iVUE CIS to storing hashed passwords in our Cooperative Cloud environment. This change allows us to leverage new recommended security measures by the National Institute of Standards and Technology and will allow us to further our security by adding new measures like two-factor authentication. Ultimately, what this means is that we’ll be able to offer improved security, not only for SmartHub users, but for our Members that use SmartHub. Security is critical, and this is just the beginning of our process as we work to ensure that all NISC products are as secure as possible. This change is part of NISC’s commitment to cybersecurity, not only at our organization, but at our Member sites as well. NISC offers a series of webinars, blog posts, cyber tips and trainings through our Member-Employee learning community. NISC has also released the “CyberSense Educational Kit,” a downloadable kit containing a series of customer-facing tips designed to protect their identity and strengthen their cybersecurity practices. Offered free of charge to any organization requesting the material, the kit is updated routinely as new information, tips and security recommendation updates [...]
Almost 100 million people watched the San Francisco 49ers take on the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV Feb. 2 in Miami. Only a fraction of those viewers were as emotionally invested in the game as NISC employee Michael Brunskill. Michael, a Professional Services coordinator in NISC’s Mandan, N.D., office, flew to Miami with his wife, Susan, to watch their son, Daniel, take the field as on offensive lineman with the 49ers. (Watch Michael share about Daniel and his thoughts the week of the Super Bowl: NISC Employee Shares About Super Bowl-Bound Son) The Brunskills were able to visit with Daniel and take part in several of the team’s family-and-friend festivities in the days leading up to the big game. The family’s first team-related activity was a 49ers reception attended by many of the players and coaches. “We had dinner with Daniel after we arrived in Miami on Thursday, and he seemed relaxed and ready,” Michael said. “He seemed focused, but you could tell it was different because of all the activity surrounding the event.” They were also able to squeeze in a couple breakfasts with Daniel, along with Michael and Susan’s two daughters and their families. On gameday, the 49ers treated the families to the best of accommodations. “The Niners organized our game experience to the ‘Niners’ degree,’ ” Michael said. “A convoy of buses brought everyone to and from the game, with the pregame ride having a party atmosphere. At the stadium it was an absolute sea of red from both teams’ fans. There were pregame activities and music concerts, and there were a lot of family group pictures and selfies being taken with well-known people.” While the Brunskills couldn’t see Jennifer [...]
During their 77th annual meeting last month in Bismarck, N.D., the North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives (NDAREC) honored NISC Board Director and General Manager of North Central Electric Cooperative Wayne Martian and former NISC President and CEO Vern Dosch with awards representing their strong commitment to cooperatives. Wayne received the Cooperative Leadership Award from NDAREC for his commitment to the cooperative business model and the seven cooperative principles. Vern was awarded the Helping Hand Award, which is awarded each year to strong advocates of North Dakota’s cooperatives. “Vern Dosch is a true friend of North Dakota's electric cooperatives and cooperatives across the country,” said NDAREC General Manager and Vice President Josh Kramer. “He is a servant leader who exemplifies the values and principles that we as cooperatives hold in high regard. It’s been a great honor and privilege to work alongside and learn from someone like Vern, who is a great example of how to lead with integrity.” After 17 years of leading NISC, Vern officially retired last month and began his next chapter. His impact on our technology cooperative, the Membership and our industries was immeasurable, and the values he instilled in NISC and its employees will continue on for many years to come. Please join us in congratulating both Vern and Wayne on these awards. To hear Vern’s remarks from the meeting, check out this video!
Michael Brunskill, a Professional Services coordinator in NISC’s Mandan, N.D., office, had the upper hand in father-son wrestling matches with his son, Daniel, until about the time Daniel started high school. Now, Daniel, 26, is a 6-foot 5-inch, 300-pound offensive lineman for the San Francisco 49ers. It’s assured there’ll be no more father-son wrestling matches between Michael and Daniel in the Brunskill household. Daniel’s story has been well-publicized in NFL media circles. He was a football program walk-on at San Diego State University, signed with the Atlanta Falcons as an undrafted NFL free agent, waived, signed to the Falcons’ practice squad, played in the now-defunct Alliance of American Football, then in April 2019, signed by the San Francisco 49ers. During the 2019-2020 NFL season, Daniel, with the athleticism and unique versatility to play three positions on the offensive line, helped fill a void left by injuries to several starters. Daniel was under tremendous pressure—and all he did was grade as one of the best offensive linemen in the NFL this season. Watch Michael share about Daniel’s gridiron journey, and what’s going through his mind leading up to the 49ers’ appearance in Super Bowl LIV Feb. 2 in Miami, Fla.: NISC Employee Shares About Super Bowl-Bound Son
With the NISC User Services System (USS), operating your broadband service offerings at peak efficiency, supporting the growing demand for the Internet Things (IoT) in the home and delivering an exceptional customer experience is now a reality. This Auto Configuration Server (ACS) management solution is a powerful, hardware-independent, cloud-based tool built to truly enhance your customers’ internet experience and reduce your truck rolls and customer support expense. You have placed the power of real-time data in the hands of your customers with SmartHub mobile and Web apps. Now is the time to elevate your customers’ overall broadband experience. With NISC’s SmartHub WiFi, your organization can effectively resolve broadband service interruptions, or even correct them before the customers become aware of an issue, by managing the internet gateway and the devices behind it connecting to your broadband service. The critical component to this solution is your customers’ ability to leverage those same tools – view their broadband usage, resolve connectivity issues, manage devices and receive alerts – to help customers better understand the services you provide and allow them to satisfy their needs largely on their own. What does that mean to your organization? Increased revenue and customer satisfaction and decreased call center volume and truck rolls. Empower customers to manage devices, resolve performance issues, set parental controls and administer changes to their home network all from the convenient SmartHub WiFi app. Integration between NISC User Services System and the iVUE Enterprise System doesn’t stop at SmartHub. For more information on NISC USS and the various integration points in the iVUE Enterprise System, please contact the NISC USS team at email@example.com or call 866.999.6472.