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You won't believe these shocking true facts about viruses and hackers

You won't believe these shocking true facts about viruses and hackers
photo courtesy of SHUTTERSTOCK

Due to all of the high-profile hacks that took place last year, 2014 became known as The Year of the Hacker. And, you should be ready for even more this year. Cybersecurity company Symantec released a report detailing just how successful hackers were last year and how that could affect us all moving forward.

Hackers have had a lot of success with "zero-day" exploits. Zero-day vulnerabilities are simply the security holes that developers and researchers haven't found yet. Hackers are locating and exploiting these vulnerabilities quicker than companies can patch them, which puts everyone using exploited software at risk.

The report is really scary. It also shows that cyberattacks were trending up across the board last year. Hackers created over 300 million new pieces of malware, and Ransomware attacks jumped up by 113%.

Crypto-ransom attacks, where the victim's files are encrypted and held hostage without warning, skyrocketed 4,000 percent to become a serious threat

Spear-phishing email attacks were down last year. But, that's not actually good news; it just means scammers are getting better at targeting potential victims and creating attacks. Data breaches from phishing email scams were up last year even though hackers were sending fewer phishing campaigns. Click here to learn how to protect yourself from phishing attacks.

Hackers are also victimizing businesses using something called Trojanized updates. They're designed to look like legitimate updates for real software, but they're actually loaded with malware.

Hackers like targeting businesses, because it can give them access to tons of customer information. Hacks against big businesses like Target and Home Depot made headlines last year, but they're not the only ones who need to be careful.

Cybercriminals also target small and medium-sized businesses because they are less likely to have effective security protections in place to stop an attack. Click here to see the3 security mistakes businesses need to avoid. Traditional businesses aren't the only potential victims that have to watch out for attacks in the future.

The report warns that "the potential for cyberattacks against cars and medical equipment should be a concern to all of us."

Hackers are also turning to social media to find victims. That's because it's easy to break into one account and then use it to trick other users into falling for scams.

Cybercriminals still favor email for the bulk of their dirty work, but the shift is on to social media because it's so effective. Most people are more willing to click something posted by a friend, so this is a very easy way to quickly launch an attack.

This report is further proof that hackers are only getting stronger and attacks aren't going to slow down any time soon. That's why you need to make sure your computer, gadgets and sensitive data are protected. Visit my Security Center to find effective security tools for your computers and gadgets.

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Source: NBC
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