Columbia Gas of Virginia prioritizing online safety

Published: Oct. 2, 2023 at 8:17 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month and Columbia Gas of Virginia is urging everyone, including its customers to stay safe online.

Things like reusing passwords is a gateway for hackers to have easier access to information, according to Columbia Gas.

Columbia Gas’ President and Chief Operating Officer, Jennifer Montague, said her teams work to strengthen its cyber shield.

“We built up our cyber defense and cyber ecosystem by implementing measures to include extensive and continuous training for employees to know how to safeguard customer data. We’ve also focused on amplifying our data encryption, and we’ve really bolstered our instant response capabilities.”

Montague said there is a lot everyone can do to protect themselves on their devices. She says things like making sure you’re logging into the correct website go a long way toward staying secure.

“You can also protect yourself by keeping your browser and your operating systems updated with the most recent software versions so we’ve done a lot to really try to be you know, very very prepared in case there any cyber attacks,” Montague said.

A grid hack happened last year in the U.S. threatening the personal information of thousands of people. Even though they weren’t affected by the hack Columbia Gas of Virginia stressed maintaining the confidentiality of customer information is critical.

Here are some actions to help customers build their cyber defenses as they access their accounts and communicate with us:

  • Password security (for our website and mobile app): Change your password often and don’t re-use old ones. Consider using a password manager instead of re-using passwords on multiple sites.
  • Check the lock (for our website): Make sure you’re logging into the correct website and look for a lock icon in the URL in the address bar – it should appear to the left of the URL. This indicates that data exchanged between your computer and our server is encrypted.
  • Don’t be fooled (when calling our Customer Care phone line and using chat feature):
  • Our customer representatives will not: Ask for your password over the phone or through live chat; or Ask for your credit card number through live chat.
  • If you’re being asked questions that seem suspicious, we encourage you to disconnect the call completely and call our number as it appears on your website or bill to ensure you’re speaking to an authorized representative. Our Customer Care phone number is 1-800-543-8911, which operates Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. EST.
  • Think before you click (for our website and alert emails/texts): Don’t click on links from unsolicited emails. If you’re able to see where a link is taking you before clicking on it, do so. If you’re suspicious of a link, don’t click on it.
  • Keep software updated (for mobile app and website): Ensure your browser and operating systems are updated with the most recent software versions.

Staff says there can be an extra layer of protection with Columbia Gas customers.

  • Never share private, sensitive data: Don’t provide your Columbia Gas account number, social security number, and/or banking information to unconfirmed sources. We only ask for a social security number when establishing a new service or verifying a customer’s identity.
  • Verify your account status: Cyber criminals may insist that your account is past due, even when your payments are up to date. You can verify your account status by logging into your Columbia Gas account.
  • Know your payment options: To more easily spot a potential scam, learn more about our Columbia Gas payment options.