NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – It’s a new year and with it are predictions that cyber criminals will strike deeper into the heart of everything we do.

It’s a frightening prediction — experts say the number of hack attacks will explode in the coming months.

Some Twitter accounts for the New York Post and UPI, as well as the news agency’s website, were even briefly hacked Friday.

“We expect cybercrime to escalate even more than it has in the past. It’s really exponential growth that we’re seeing, both in number of attacks, but also in their sophistication,” Patrick Nielsen said, senior security researched for Kaspersky Lab.

In 2015, hackers are widely expected to take their attacks on financial institutions to new levels with  more precise techniques.

“Targeting banks directly and targeting automatic teller machines are a couple of things we’ve seen recently and we expect to see much more of in the future,” Nielsen said.

And expect hackers to go after individuals by zeroing in on their smartphones, which are being used more and more frequently for everything from banking online to shopping. Hackers are developing malicious apps that can be easily downloaded by the unsuspecting.

“It’s a good idea to have at least some type of anti-virus or malware or firewall on your mobile device to at least try to thwart some of those malicious apps that may come through,” Scott Braunzell, a self-described hacker, said.

Braunzell now helps companies find their weaknesses to help them limit their risk of being hacked.

“We’re attacked more than anybody on the planet,” he said.

Braunzell said Americans are particularly vulnerable and that just relying on a password for protection is not enough. He says there is a second line of defense like services that provide a secret code that unlike a password, changes every day. Your account can only be accessed when both are used.

“It’s almost unbreakable. A hacker would not be able to access your information to say transfer money out of your account if they didn’t have that set of secondary authentication,” Braunzell said.

And it’s important to remember the basics of online protection.

“It’s really simple things. It’s about using a different password on every website, it’s about looking at the links before you click on them,” CNET Executive Editor Ian Sherr said. “People aren’t listening, people still aren’t doing it and that’s where a lot of these hacks are originating.”

Many attacks can be thwarted by increasing the complexity of your password to include upper and lower cases, numbers and special characters like a question mark on dollar sign.

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