Security experts around the world agree: 2017 was a terrible year for cybercrimes. You may have been a victim of an unprecedented number of these attacks this past year.
We've told you about ransomware attacks such as WannaCry that, at its peak, was shutting down about 2 million computers every hour. Worse, many victims who paid the ransom didn't even get access to their computers.
WannaCry exploited a vulnerability in Windows XP, which Microsoft has since fixed. But there were other devastating cyberattacks such as Locky and many others.
These attacks are becoming more commonplace and targeting your money. The FBI, for instance, estimates that ransonware victims paid about $1 billion in 2016 to have criminals give them access to their own computers.
Worse, they often target hospitals and medical equipment that keep countless people alive. It's scary and, unfortunately, the New Year is likely going to be worse for cybercrime.
Here are five cybercrimes that we think you'll hear a lot about in 2018. Keep reading for tips to protect your money, your health and your digital devices.
All of a sudden, you're hearing about cybercurrency. Bitcoin, in particular, has been in the news nearly every day for its soaring value, its plummeting value and back again.
Criminals have figured out how to cash in, and they're using your computers and smartphones to do it. There are websites that generate revenue using cryptocurrency, as much as they would with ad dollars.
Here's one way to keep cybercriminals from exploiting your computer. If you use Google Chrome, you can add an extension to it like No Coin that's designed to block cryptojacking criminals.
Health care Attacks
Cybercriminals are no laughing matter. They weren't when they spread malware or ransomware to take your hard-earned money.
But, now, cybercriminals attack life-saving medical equipment. You might remember that hospitals in England and other countries went dark when cybercriminals attacked them earlier this year.
They used stolen information from the United States National Security Agency to shut down life-saving equipment. Surgeries were stopped and people may have died.
This was a deadly aspect of the WannaCry ransomware attack mentioned above. But how can you protect yourself when criminals are targeting hospitals?
Here's what you must do: If you are using medical devices that are connected to the internet, make sure they are secured with passwords that criminals can't easily exploit.
Plus, ask your doctor and hospital about their cybersecurity systems. This can be a life-or-death issue - do not hesitate to ask them for details about keeping cybercriminals out of their computer systems.
It's bad enough when you're the victim of a crime like the WannCry ransomware attack that affected people around the world. It's worse when those attacks, including WannaCry and others like the Trickbot banking trojan, are worms.
Worms spread ransomware and other malware from one vulnerable computer to another. That is why these crimes spread so fast.
Here's what you must do: Make sure your computer is up-to-date. These days, many operating systems automatically update, so you always have the highest level of protection.
To make sure you do, check your system. With Windows 10, for instance: Click on the Windows icon (Start button) in the lower left side of your screen >> Settings >> Update & Security >> Check for Updates.
Years ago, people like you worried about real-life criminals. There was the Mafia, which has largely been wiped out, and gangs that took over large parts of cities such as Los Angeles.
These days, there is an invisible threat. Cybercriminals are stealing your money and putting your life at risk by remotely taking over computer systems.
The problem is twofold. Technology is making it easier for people to become cybercriminals and, this is frightening, some of these people form real gangs and use violence to ensure they get the money they're after.
Protect yourself: Do everything you can to keep cybercriminals out of your devices and out of your life. This starts with a simple step of ensuring that all your devices are protected with anti-malware and firewalls. Many of these systems are FREE.
Criminals are clever, unfortunately. Many of them are starting to attack the very security systems you have in place to protect yourself.
Security experts say this trend will take off in 2018. To protect yourself, make sure that your operating system is up-to-date and that your anti-malware software is turned on for real-time protection.
Don't Skip This Critical Step!
As Kim Komando often tells you, you have to protect yourself from cybercriminals. They're out there and they're sophisticated.
However, you can take a few simple steps to keep them away. One important way to do that is by backing up all of your computer files. We recommend our sponsor IDrive.
If you get hit with ransomware, no problem. Just restore your backed-up files.
Counting down the biggest hacks of 2017
What were the biggest and worst cyberattacks of 2017? Was it the Equifax attack that put 143 million people's private information at risk?
That was certainly one of the worst attacks of the past year. There were several other attacks that you must know about.