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3 biggest security threats of 2016

3 biggest security threats of 2016
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You can hardly look at tech news without seeing reports of viruses, Trojans, data breaches, ransomware, remote hacking, ATM skimmers and plenty of other threats to your money and information. According to security experts, 34.2% of computer users experienced at least one Web attack in 2015. More than 750,000 computers were infected with ransomware, with a steady increase every quarter.

Statistics like this can seem overwhelming. Fortunately, most of the threats break down into a few categories that you can guard against. Today, I'm going to take a look at what are shaping up to be the biggest threats you'll need to worry about in 2016, and give you some tips for how to stay safe.

1. Data breaches

OK, this threat isn't a new one. In fact, it's been at the top of everyone's watch list since the massive Target breach at the end of 2013, which exposed information on up to 110 million customers. However, the nature of this threat is going to be shifting in 2016.

Breaches at major retailers where hackers steal payment information are going to continue for the foreseeable future. Hotels are the target of choice at the moment with Hilton, Starwood and others experiencing attacks in 2015. However, as more retailers switch to point-of-sale terminals that work with the EMV chips in the latest credit and debit cards, and people start using mobile payment systems, hackers should move on to easier targets. Find out how the chip in your new cards works to limit the danger of data breaches, and how mobile payment on Apple and Android makes you safer.

The growing worry for 2016 is medical data breaches. In 2015, more than 100 million patient records were exposed, with the majority coming from the Anthem Insurance hack earlier in the year. That trend is going to continue as hospitals, insurance providers and other medical services struggle to get a handle on digital security. To be fair, it's a problem they've never had to deal with before, but that's small comfort when your medical records are being sold on the black market.

Speaking of the black market, another reason hackers are going to focus on medical information is money. The black market is flooded with stolen financial and personal information, which means your identity is selling for a few bucks, if even that.

Medical information is in shorter supply, so hackers can sell it for more. Plus, most people now know to keep an eye on their credit and bank statements for signs of fraud. However, few people keep an eye on their medical insurance, which means that hackers can get more use out of your information before they're discovered.

Besides medical data breaches, you're going to see breaches in other industries you wouldn't expect to find them, such as the toy industry. For example, a recent breach at VTech, a toy manufacturer, exposed information on more than 200,000 children, including their names, addresses and even photos. A data breach at Hello Kitty exposed information on 3.3 million users.

Newer high-tech toys that store information about kids and interact with them, like "Hello Barbie," could reveal a lot to hackers. So, before you buy a high-tech toy or let your child use an online site, see what information it asks for that could be stolen one day.

Next page: Ransomware

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