As more households work and learn remotely and experts across the nation are raising concerns about cybersecurity, officers at the Tuscaloosa Police Department said cyberattacks haven't been a major issue locally during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"In Tuscaloosa, we haven't had any complaints or calls on anything related to cybersecurity," said TPD's Capt. Brad Mason.

A representative for the Tuscaloosa County Sheriff's Office echoed those sentiments and said their agency has not seen any noticeable spike in reports of cyberattacks.

With students online more than ever before with virtual learning, they may fall victim to hackers. Mason said every parent needs to monitor their child's online activities to help prevent any issues.

"Every parent needs to make sure that whatever online activities, whether its school or social activities or entertainment, they need to make sure they know what their kids are doing," Mason said. "I would use the school-recommended software and school-recommended products for learning."

Online scammers often target older people for their scams. Mason said this is because the elderly are more trusting and less tech-savvy than younger generations.

"Elderly people tend to be victims of scams more often because, unfortunately, sometimes it's easier for them to get confused, and that goes for all the different scam types," Mason said.

Hackers and scammers alike are exploiting people's confusion and uncertainty during the COVID-19 pandemic. Scammers pretend to be organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO), asking for personal information. In April, Google said the company was blocking up to 18 million Coronavirus phishing emails a day.

Just last month, the University of Alabama reported that one of their third-party data management partners was hacked and personal data of UA alumni may have been compromised.

Mason said anyone who suspects they have been or are being scammed online can call or visit TPD and file a report.

"There are a couple of different things someone can do if they feel they've fallen victim to an online scam," Mason said. "They can report it to the police department, call the department, or go online and make a report, and we'll look into those cases."

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