BY Steve Rowland, Senior Information Technology and Security Manager AT UNITED COMMUNICATIONS
Cybersecurity has become an indispensable part of our digital lives. But for most businesses and individuals I know, the biggest challenge is the constantly evolving landscape of cyber threats. As the Senior Information Technology and Security Manager, I’ve witnessed the IT and cybersecurity sectors undergo dramatic transformations over the past two decades. That’s why I’m incredibly grateful that the United Communications leadership team prioritizes security to safeguard our employees and customers from these threats.
We’re a local company deeply committed to our customers’ well-being, so we understand the paramount importance of cybersecurity. From investing in industry-leading solutions to continuously training our employees on the latest advances, we’ve created a 360-degree approach to cybersecurity. As we commemorate Cybersecurity Awareness Month, I wanted to shed some light on how United Communications goes above and beyond to protect our residential and business customers.
5 Ways United Prioritizes Cybersecurity for Residential and Business Customers
Here are a few specific ways that United invests in providing our customers with innovative and proven cybersecurity solutions:
1. United employs multiple layers of protection, shielding our systems and customer data from threats.
At United, we’ve implemented a multi-faceted approach to safeguard our employees and customers from cybersecurity threats. For our internal systems, this includes verifying the identity of employees before granting access to sensitive customer and business data. We also ensure that employees can only access the specific information required for their job tasks.
We also meticulously monitor every aspect of system activity — from logins and logouts to file changes and account updates. Any deviation from this baseline triggers immediate alerts, allowing us to respond swiftly to suspicious or unauthorized actions.
2. United offers industry-leading solutions to protect residential customers.
We recognize the importance of empowering our customers to implement cybersecurity best practices. That’s why we go the extra mile to offer protective measures through the UControl App and our routers to help prevent cybersecurity attacks. This app allows our customers to protect their home or business Wi-Fi networks by securing them with features such as network security, SSID, and password management. These tools enable our customers to protect their families through parental controls to block unwanted content from entering their network. Our Calix GigaSpire Blast routers offer the latest Wi-Fi security protocols with integrated hardware and software security that is automatically updated.
Part of our industry-leading customer experience is making it easy for customers to connect with our local service team to answer any security-related questions.
3. United’s data center connections and dark fiber networks help businesses and enterprises protect their data.
The Uptime Institute, the standard bearer for digital infrastructure and cybersecurity for businesses, offers a certification system for data centers worldwide. We’re proud to offer Tier 3-ready colocation data center connections, which provide primary data security for enterprise to small business users in Middle Tennessee and secondary data security for enterprise users across the U.S. This means that your data is stored in a highly secure facility designed to withstand physical and environmental threats.
United also offers dark fiber connections for government institutions, schools, e-commerce, and retail companies. Dark fiber is a dedicated, unlit optical fiber that is not shared with other users. This fiber option provides a much higher level of security than traditional shared fiber optic networks.
4. We train and test our teams to ensure they’re equipped to face cybersecurity threats.
Our commitment to cybersecurity extends to comprehensive investments in employee training and well-established procedures that embody cybersecurity best practices. From the moment an individual joins our team, we include training and testing as part of our onboarding process. This training means that they are well-equipped to identify and address cybersecurity threats. We also conduct regular cybersecurity awareness training sessions throughout the year, reinforcing our team’s knowledge and vigilance. Our employees are also equipped with essential tools to report any suspicious activity they may encounter.
5. We actively engage with the cybersecurity community across the country.
Cybersecurity threats aren’t bound by location or borders. That’s why we are deeply committed to continual learning and collaboration with the cybersecurity community nationwide by fostering connections with government agencies, law enforcement entities, and vendor groups. Through this network, we receive real-time alerts and vulnerability notices that keep us at the forefront of the cybersecurity landscape.
Our dedicated IT team holds various cybersecurity certifications, and these credentials are regularly renewed through rigorous continuing education programs. These efforts sharpen our skills and enhance our awareness, enabling us to better protect our customers by staying ahead of emerging threats and implementing the most effective security measures.
Cybersecurity Protection: By the Numbers
Here are just a few statistics that highlight the tangible impact our cybersecurity measures make when it comes to protecting against potential threats:
- Employee Email Security: We meticulously filter through 80,000+ emails monthly. This diligent process helps us block 6,400+ emails that could contain harmful content, scams, or risky attachments, ensuring your inbox remains clean and secure.
- Employee Web Traffic Protection: Our commitment to safeguarding your online experience is reflected in our monthly handling of over 10 million web requests. We actively block over 1,000 suspicious requests, shielding you from potential dangers such as malicious websites, malware, and insecure online destinations.
- Customer Router Defense: With the assistance of our trusty Calix routers, we thwart nearly 30,000 threats every month. These threats encompass various online hazards, including dangerous websites, network intrusions, and viruses. Our routers serve as your dedicated online security team, ensuring these threats are neutralized before they harm you.
Our Best Practical Advice for Avoiding Cybersecurity Threats
Cybersecurity protection matters to everyone — from large enterprise businesses to individual families. While there are specific things you can do to keep your family safe from hackers, the biggest key is to be cautious with all of your online interactions. Don’t worry if you’re unfamiliar with tech terms like malware or ransomware. Remember that websites, emails, texts, and phone calls can all be used to trick you into providing information that will allow access to your personal and financial information.
Simply make it a habit to question every digital message or website. Ask yourself: Did I start the conversation? Is anything strange about it? Is there urgency or pressure to do something? Is it a request I would normally get? Does it ask me to do something unusual? Most importantly, does my “gut feeling” trust it? These simple checks can go a long way in keeping you safe online.
Discover Our Dedication and Customer Experience
United Communications takes cybersecurity very seriously. From our leadership’s commitment and internal protocols all the way to our customer’s homes, we are continuously working to protect the systems that bring our world-class internet to our neighbors in communities around Middle Tennessee.
Senior Information Technology and Security Manager
Steve Rowland is the Senior Information Technology and Security Manager at United Communications, bringing over 20 years of diverse industry experience to his work. In 2020, Steve joined the team at United Communications after being drawn to the company’s shared value of serving others and his passion for continuous learning. In his current role, Steve leads a team of IT professionals who are responsible for supporting the company’s employees and ensuring its IT systems are secure. He holds certifications as a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) and Project Management Professional (PMP), demonstrating his expertise in IT and security management.