PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- As Arizona students settle in for a new year of online learning, cybersecurity experts warn the risk of identity and data theft has increased.

“Anytime there is a crisis like we have right now with the COVID-19 pandemic malicious actors will take advantage,” said Doug Levin, president of the K-12 Cybersecurity Resource Center, which has tracked some 900 cyber-attacks on school districts since 20-16. “That ranges from phishing attacks, data breaches, ransomware incidents, and other sorts of things."

Levin expects to see more cybercrimes with more students attending school online. “They have smaller professional IT staff, they may be running older computers and older systems that may not be as well patched,” said Levin.

Districts manage very large budgets, house the personal information of all their students, and in many cases, have rushed to get distance learning up and running.

Levin recommends parents consider freezing their child’s credit along with making sure all security features on their devices have been activated. He also suggests using a different device for school or at least a different browser and says it's a good idea to completely log out when the day is done.

“I have examples from districts from Alaska to Florida from Maine to Hawaii that have experienced these incidents from the very smallest to the very largest, so you know these attacks do not discriminate,” said Levin.


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