(KMOV.com) -- The new year means crooks are finding new ways to take advantage of residents.
The AARP released predictions Tuesday of how criminals will scam people out of money in 2014.
They include ransomware, in which criminals remotely freeze your computer then demand money to make it work again, destroying data, mobile malware- more attacks are expected on your phone and table, and more attacks on smart devices.
Crooks can use TVs, baby monitors, web cams and anything that connects to the internet to spy on victims.
Experts say the best protection is a secure browser, virus protection and a firewall.
“This is like buying the world’s most expensive car and not putting a burglar alarm on it,” said Daniel Rechtien with the Circuit Attorney’s Office. “These are the things you need to do to make sure you’re not putting up a neon sign on top of your house that says free electronic information here.”
Your television is watching you: Many traditionally “dumb” electronic devices are now designed to be smarter. Some televisions, gaming devices and even baby monitors have internet capabilities and often contain cameras and microphones. Cyber security companies predict these devices will be subject to remote spying attacks. So while you are watching TV, TV may be watching you. As the owner of these types of devices, you need to pay attention to notifications from manufacturers that contain security software updates. When considering the purchase of such a device, determine if the device can be used to spy on you before bringing it into your home.
Ransomware: In this scam, criminals remotely freeze your computer then demand money to make it work again. They may claim to be federal law enforcement officers and claim that you have been accessing child pornography. They may also offer to sell you bogus security software to remove a supposed online virus. The FBI and industry experts say you should not pay – it will only lead to more extortion. Contact a trusted computer professional to remove the virus. Expect ransomware to move from computers to smart phones and other handheld devices in 2014.
Destroying rather than collecting data: In the past, cyber criminals concentrated on collecting sensitive data in order to profit. Beginning in 2013, there was an increase in sabotage, rather than espionage, attacks. Hackers get inside big institutional systems and erase huge volumes of data. To protect yourself, back up your systems. The general rule of thumb is that unless there are three copies, data does not exist. Copy one is on the hard drive, copy two should be on a thumb drive or disc stored securely off site and copy three should be on the cloud or a commercial backup system such as Carbonite. This rule is also true for your personal data on your home computer.
Loving the “like”: Schemes involving social media “like” buttons convince users to reveal personal information in exchange for watching free videos or receiving prizes. In 2014, beware of mobile applications promising to secure more “likes.” One Russian criminal has already tricked over 100,000 people into revealing their login details in order to receive more “likes” for their Instagram postings.
More mobile malware: Initially, cyber crooks focused their attacks on desktop computers. In 2014, expect more attacks aimed at smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices. Although many users install security software on their desktops, they don’t take the same precaution with their mobile devices. Make certain you know how to secure your mobile devices and keep that security software updated, particularly if you shop, bank or conduct business with these devices.
Targeting Software Developers: In October, hackers breached Adobe’s computer systems and obtained the names of millions of customers and their encrypted credit and debit card numbers. In 2014, industry experts predict increased criminal activity targeting software development companies. Always pay attention to news reports about the attacks to determine if it affects your personal information. Quickly utilize security updates and patches issued after the breaches occur.