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Hackers getting more sophisticated, bigger targets predicted in 2015

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Between credit card numbers, personal information and private photos, many of us trust a lot of sensitive info to the internet.  Ian admits he's no exception.

"In my business I'm reliant on the internet, in just every facet of personal life," he said.

So, when he received a notice that an online service he subscribed to was "hacked by an unauthorized party," he says it was unsettling.

"I initially was a little bit scared," he admitted.

Although Ian says he changes his passwords regularly and is careful when it comes to online activity, hacking is still worries him.
 
"They can do a lot of damage, and they can do it fairly quickly," he said.

Experts say Ian should be concerned.

"We expect cybercrime to escalate even more than it has in the past. It's really exponential growth that we're seeing, both in the number of attacks but also in their sophistication," said Patrick Nielsen, Kaspersky Lab Senior Security Researcher.

Nielsen says the Kaspersky Lab predicts in 2015 that criminals will go after corporations directly looking for the big score. But he adds, that doesn't mean it won't affect consumers.

"It's really clear that an attack on one organization can compromise the privacy, security, confidentiality and intimacy of hundreds of thousands of people if not millions," he explained.

One potential target: 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 consumers 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," said Nielsen. "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?  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," explained CNET Executive Editor Ian Sherr.

How do you protect yourself against the ever-changing attacks? 

"It's very simple things, right? 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," said Sherr. "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."

Experts also recommend use two factor authentication whenever possible.  They say it's much more unlikely 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.

Read more information on Kaspersky Lab 2015 Cyber Crime Predictions.