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How local school districts protect online data after ransomware attack on LAUSD

Los Angles Unified School District, the nation's second-largest school district, was hacked over the weekend. Some valley parents are worried the same could happen in local school districts.

Michele Vasquez has a 13-year-old son who is a part of Palm Springs Unified School District.

"It's scary-- the safety of our children," said Vasquez. "They can get any information, our health, our address, our phone numbers, our family members... My child's information, their social security, mine, because they have all our information."

After the cyberattack in LA, PSUSD's director of educational technology, William Carr, is taking time to re-evaluate the district's cyber security.

The district's first method of cyber defense is a firewall, a network security device that monitors traffic in and out of the network. Second, protection on all 50,000 devices the district oversees.

"If [students and staff] are at home, and they accidentally get something on [the device], it won't bring it back to work. It is quarantined," said Carr.

And lastly, educating people on cyber security awareness.

"Everybody needs to know about proper internet etiquette, safety procedures, protecting themselves, securing their passwords," said Carr.

But if someone did try to hack into the PSUSD's data:

"If there is a possibility of a breach, the data will become useless because it's encrypted."

And PSUSD is not alone in the fight to keep student data safe.

"What's nice too is that Desert Sands, Coachella, our neighbors, we're able to share best practices and also have conversations," said Carr.

Palm Springs Unified School District has a Division of Education Technology Information Services. It offers a resource page with educational security tips for the school year. They cover everything from email to network security.

Desert Sands Unified School District sent News Channel 3 a statement about protecting student data:

"In today's digital world students have access to information that broadens their education in ways we could not have dreamed of just a few years ago. Desert Sands Unified School District is committed to protecting student and employee data privacy. We consistently monitor and update our technology solutions and security standards to defend against cyber attacks.  For the continued safety and security of data privacy and our district network, we do not publicly disclose this information."


DSUSD uses the education platform Synergy Student Information System, which shares vital information among teachers, district staff, students, and their families.

On DSUSD's Synergy website, it says the benefits of Synergy include increased security and confidentiality of student and parent information. Also, DSUSD's technology resources page says, "We are also trusted by our stakeholders to maintain the privacy and integrity of student data."

Coachella Valley Unified School District sent News Channel 3 a statement about protecting student data:

We cannot disclose the details of our cyber security plan but would like to assure our students and staff that their data is as protected as possible. We constantly monitor and update our systems to ensure we have the cyber protection our communities need. We encourage our staff and students to remain vigilant and continue following all of our online security guidelines and protocols.

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Marian Bouchot

Marian Bouchot is the weekend morning anchor and a reporter for KESQ News Channel 3. Learn more about Marian here.


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