WORCESTER, Mass — A Worcester cybersecurity expert says consumers impacted by the AT&T data beach should remain vigilant.

Worcester Polytechnic Institute professor Patrick Schaumont says AT&T has a large network of computers run by software, and when there is a small mistake or break in one computer, it gives hackers access to the entire network.

Current and former customers from 2019 or earlier may be impacted. Schaumont says some of the information the hackers were able to get, like social security numbers, never changes, so people should be on alert.

"What people can do is be proactive,” Schaumont said. “If they are a potential identify theft victim, there are simple steps you can do to protect yourself. One is ask for a credit freeze with a credit bureau or credit union. You can also check your own credit report on a regular basis. There is a website run by government called annualcreditreport.com that gives you free access to your credit report. Anything that you see there which looks out of the normal, that should raise a red flag."

Schaumont recommends going to identitytheft.gov, another website run by the government, if people notice something odd. This will explain the next steps.