(NPN) – Some big hacks made big headlines in 2014. So what is in store for cybercrime in 2015?
Experts warn that hackers are getting more sophisticated and predict they will go after even bigger targets.
Between credit card numbers, personal information and private photos, many of us trust a lot of sensitive information to the internet.
Ian says he's no exception.
"In my business I'm reliant on the internet, in just every facet of personal life," Ian said.
So when he received a notice that an online service that he subscribed to was "hacked by an unauthorized party" he says it was unsettling.
"I initially was a little bit scared," Ian said.
Although he says he changes his passwords regularly and is careful when it comes to online activity, hacking is still a worry for him.
"They can do a lot of damage, and they can do it fairly quickly," Ian said.
Experts say Ian is right to be concerned.
Patrick Nielsen is the Senior Security Researcher for Kaspersky Lab.
"We expect cybercrime to escalate even more than it has in the past," Nielsen said. "It's really exponential growth that we're seeing, both in the number of attacks but also in their sophistication."
Nielsen says one potential target is financial institutions.
"Targeting banks directly and targeting automatic teller machines, is a couple of things we've seen recently and we expect to see much more of in the future," Nielsen said.
And with the growing popularity of virtual payment networks, Nielsen expects those to be a new target. He says it's important for consumer to pay attention to security, as best they can.
"Some technologies will come out and be very secure from the beginning and may not suffer catastrophic attacks," Nielsen said. "Others will come out without having been tested very much."
Experts also say hackers are now going after individual users in order to find ways into corporations.
"So, for example they will send emails that look like they're a message from my mailroom here, right?" CNET Executive Editor Ian Sherr said. "And say, we need to you verify this package is real, click this link. And once I click the link, no matter what I do after that it's downloaded this bad software that gets access to my computer, turns it into a zombie, whole network is infected."
So how do you protect yourself against these ever-changing attacks?
"It's very simple things, right?" Sherr said. "The smart password, it's about using a different password on every website, it's about looking at the links before you click on them. The funny part is that we all sound like we're broken records. There's a reason: people aren't listening, people still aren't doing it, and that's where a lot of these hacks are originating."
As for Ian, he hasn't suffered any negative consequences from the data breach. But he remains vigilant.
"What motivates me to take these precautions is, you know, the headaches that you can face if, you know, your information is stolen," Ian said.
Another tip the experts recommend: use the two factor authentication whenever possible. They say it's much more unlikely that a criminal will be able to get your password and also your phone, which would receive a special PIN, in order to get into your account.