Safer Surfing | OEC News

How to keep you and your information secure online

Cyber security is more critical now than ever. Stories of data breaches and compromised logins splash across the headlines regularly.

“At OEC Fiber, we value our subscribers’ security and online safety above all else,” said David Goodspeed, president of OEC Fiber. “We actively monitor for threats and do our best to block them before they gain access to the network. We want everyone to feel safe online, and educating our subscribers on what to do is part of that.”

Ready to make sure you stay secure when browsing online? A few preventive measures can help protect you against cyber threats before they strike!

CHECK YOUR PASSWORDS

Hackers love it when we get lazy with our passwords.

According to pcmag.com, 70% of people use the same password on more than one online account. While it may make them easier to remember, using the same password on multiple logins gives hackers more access to your sensitive data. Use a unique password for each account to help keep them secure.

While having multiple, unique passwords is ideal, remembering all of them can be difficult. Using a password manager such as LastPass, BitWarden or 1PAssword can be an excellent solution for remembering unique, secure passwords for every site. Password managers allow you to store all your passwords in one secure vault and automatically fill in your login information on each website with just one click. Not only that, but they also help protect against malicious hackers by preventing brute-force attacks and other cybercriminal techniques used to glean user data.

Remember, two-step authentication! Have a code sent to your email or phone; some services may have you answer a security question for an extra layer of protection. Two-step authentication will ensure only YOU can access your account and give you the heads up if someone else tries to get in.

SCAN FOR SCAMMERS

“When it comes to your online safety, scammers are getting smarter all the time,” said OEC Fiber’s senior manager of technology services and network operations, Michael Tomas. “They can make malicious emails look nearly identical to the real thing. That’s why you should always double-check any email addresses or content for anything suspicious before clicking on a link.”

Stay vigilant. Look for strange punctuation, spelling mistakes and email addresses from odd domains. Why would Amazon be sending you something from a Gmail account? These are all signs of a scammer trying to get their hands on your data.

SAFE SOCIAL SHARING

Stay connected to the people you care about while still practicing caution online. Social media is an excellent tool for communication and a source of entertainment. Still, only some people need access to our lives. 

“Don’t post everything online,” said David Madden, OEC Fiber’s supervisor of subscriber support. “Keep personal information private.”

From geo-tagging your vacation photos to live-tweeting an event, social media can be a great way to express yourself and document memories. But before you hit post, it is important to remember the potential danger of oversharing location information. You could tell unwelcome individuals where they can find or take advantage of you!

Limit the information in your profile. Even if the platform suggests it, try to leave any personal details off. When in doubt– keep it out; the fewer specifics you share online, the less likely someone can use that info for something nefarious.

Taking cyber security seriously is more important than ever. OEC Fiber is committed to doing all we can to keep you and your information safe. To learn more about online safety and the steps you can take to keep yourself safe online, visit oecfiber.com/blog to find more articles with online safety tips.

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Into the Sunset | OEC News

As the chair of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association Engineering Subcommittee for Power Quality and Reliability, Nick Shumaker will help electric cooperatives face the challenges and opportunities of the future.

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Safer Surfing | OEC News

Learn about cyber security and how to stay safe when browsing the web. Find out what you can do to protect yourself from data breaches and compromised logins.

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Life at a Crossroads | OEC News

Fiber enables local shelter to better care for at-risk youth.

On Tecumseh Road in Norman, just off Interstate 35, hides a beacon of hope for children and teens in crisis. Crossroads Youth & Family Services offers a safe place to learn, grow and discover when a permanent home is unavailable.

“We are the only emergency shelter in Cleveland County,” said Executive Director Wendy Swatek.

Founded in 1969, Crossroads operates 33 other service agencies, additional shelters and services across the state. However, this eight-bed shelter is the only one Cleveland County has to offer for teens. Brightly colored, hand-painted murals and a warm, inviting atmosphere provide a sense of safety and security at a time when the young people within its walls need it most.

“The purpose of our shelter is kids have a place to stay until a permanent placement is found. Either in a foster home, an adoptive home or possibly a group home,” Swatek said.

This all-in-one facility houses a variety of spaces designed to give children and teens everything they need to thrive during a difficult time. Walking into the shared living space, it is not uncommon to see anime playing on the TV in one corner while someone plays a video game in another.

Teens have access to a full kitchen, art room and a resource closet where they shop for clothes, bedding and other essentials. A fullservice classroom sits on the far side of the shared space along a glass wall. Teachers from Norman Public Schools come here to keep the children’s education on track.

“Our shelter kids, it’s their home,” Swatek said. “They play here. They sleep here. They watch movies here. All the things you would do in your normal home. We have kiddos here that need all the support they can get, and we’re here providing a safe environment for them.”

To provide this support, Crossroads offers counseling and other family services designed to give children and families the best opportunity for success. They integrated the Head Start program, an income-based service for 0 to 5-year-olds, into their services in 2008. This program gives children a step up when they reach kindergarten.

“What’s unique about Head Start is that it’s a wrap-around service,” Swatek said. “Not only do we educate children in the classroom, but we also have family advocates that serve families as a whole. We goal set with families and help them find resources.”

With 200 to 250 kids coming through the shelter each year, the staffing and resources needed to ensure things run smoothly are hard to come by. With 275 employees serving over 1,050 kids in Head Start, staying on top of things is difficult. It is even harder when an unreliable internet connection hinders staff’s ability to access vital information.

“We use OEC Fiber because it’s the only service we found that works,” Swatek said. “When the internet works, our staff can print, get on their computers and do their intakes with their counseling clients. It’s really changed the way we’ve been able to do business.”

Staff are not the only ones affected by poor internet connection. Kids in the shelter are encouraged to engage in everyday activities like video games, streaming movies and YouTube. All of which require internet. Losing connectivity limits their options and can amplify feelings of ostracization during an already difficult time.

Due to the high-quality service OEC Fiber supplies, on-site safety at Crossroads has improved.

“We have cameras at our facility for safety purposes,” Swatek said. “There’s times we have to pull footage up, and we’re able to see it with a lot of detail because of the strength of our internet service.”

It takes more than good Wi-Fi to make this facility run. Volunteers engage in various activities, from general maintenance and landscaping to mentoring children.

“I always tell people to think about the needs around your house,” Swatek said.

The areas in which people can help are vast. Everything from assisting residents “shopping” in the resource room to keeping the facilities in top shape is encouraged.

Crossroads Youth & Family Services’ number one goal is to provide children with a safe environment where they can flourish. If you want to get involved in their mission, visit their website at crossroadsyfs.org to learn more and volunteer to improve lives.

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Into the Sunset | OEC News

As the chair of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association Engineering Subcommittee for Power Quality and Reliability, Nick Shumaker will help electric cooperatives face the challenges and opportunities of the future.

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Safer Surfing | OEC News

Learn about cyber security and how to stay safe when browsing the web. Find out what you can do to protect yourself from data breaches and compromised logins.

Read More »
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Making a Difference

OEC Foundation Board Grants $55,000 to Local Organizations, Families

In October, the OEC Foundation approved $55,000 in grants to local organizations and families. Grants are made possible thanks to thousands of members who choose to round up their electric bills to the nearest dollar each month. Their generous donations go towards Operation Round Up (ORU), a program that provides funds for worthy causes throughout our service area.

“As always, its incredbly rewarding to give these grants to people in our community,” said ORU President Beckie Turner. “It is an astronomical reward to know that everything we take in, we’re going to give back.”

Fostering Futures, formally the Citizens Advisory Board, Assistance League Norman, and the Salvation Army of Cleveland County received $10,000 each. The board also awarded grants to several other organizations. The American Red Cross of Central and Southwest Oklahoma received $7,500 for local disaster aid, Mission Norman received $5,000 for their residents, Blanchard Special Olympics received $2,000 for team supplies, and the Amber Fire Department received $4,000 for personal protection equipment and other tools.

“These are all incredbile causes we are proud to support here at OEC,” said OEC Education and Outreach Programs Director Tory Tedder-Loffland.

Individuals also received assistance with eye care, purchasing hearing aids and dentures, and help with groceries.

Approximately 80 percent of our members choose to round up their monthly bills, with the change going towards the OEC Foundation board to disburse. On average, this amounts to $6 per year per member, which helps support various causes and programs.

The Foundation board is responsible for carefully reviewing and selecting organizations and projects that will have the most impact, and OEC is proud to support such worthwhile initiatives.

“Our grants help larger organizations expand their reach to help more people who are struggling,” Turner said. “It’s wonderful to see how far just a few dollars given every month can go.”

Over the last 26 years, ORU has awarded more than $5 million in grants to various local nonprofit organizations. These organizations provide vital services to their communities, including meals, clothes, Christmas gifts and more.

In addition to providing essential services, these organizations build community cohesion and support networks. As a result, the impact of ORU’s grants goes far beyond the immediate recipients. By supporting these organizations, ORU is helping to create stronger communities and making a difference.

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Into the Sunset | OEC News

As the chair of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association Engineering Subcommittee for Power Quality and Reliability, Nick Shumaker will help electric cooperatives face the challenges and opportunities of the future.

Read More »

Safer Surfing | OEC News

Learn about cyber security and how to stay safe when browsing the web. Find out what you can do to protect yourself from data breaches and compromised logins.

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The Power of Service

Oklahoma Electric Cooperative and OEC Fiber Employees Volunteer to Complete Much Needed Community Projects

Twenty OEC and OEC Fiber employees teamed up with Cleveland County Master Gardeners during United Way of Norman’s (UWN) Day of Caring (DOC). The annual service event brings together hundreds of volunteers from businesses in Cleveland County to perform much-needed projects for nonprofit organizations.

“I enjoy seeing so many members of our community come together to help out our often-struggling nonprofits complete projects they might not be able to perform due to budget restraints, staffing and the necessary time commitment,” said OEC Education and Outreach Programs Director Tory Tedder-Loffland, 

who also served on the DOC planning committee.

OEC’s volunteer group spent time repairing and staining benches and pergolas throughout the Master Gardeners’ grounds. The team also removed old raised garden beds and completed yard work around the property. It was a busy day filled with rewarding work for a deserving organization.

“It is especially rewarding to see the business community come together to make a lasting impact beyond just donating money,” said OEC Fiber social marketing associate Hunter Foster. “I love seeing everyone serve these nonprofits and our community as a whole.”

The mission of Cleveland County Master Gardeners, the organization with which OEC and OEC Fiber employees were paired, is very simple. 

“Oklahoma Master Gardeners are a vital part of Oklahoma State University Extension’s ability to provide consumers with up-to-date, research-based information on gardening and plant care. Master Gardeners has also become a popular volunteer activity that gives its participants a sense of community spirit, accomplishment and intellectual stimulation.”

Share this article

Into the Sunset | OEC News

As the chair of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association Engineering Subcommittee for Power Quality and Reliability, Nick Shumaker will help electric cooperatives face the challenges and opportunities of the future.

Read More »

Safer Surfing | OEC News

Learn about cyber security and how to stay safe when browsing the web. Find out what you can do to protect yourself from data breaches and compromised logins.

Read More »
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