SAN ANTONIO -

According to the World Economic Forum, people in the U.S. were the targets of 23 percent of all global Internet attacks last year.

But staying safe may simply be as easy as staying educated and up-to-date.

Phones, email accounts, even Facebook can all be the target of scammers. But the most recent bullseye for hackers has been smartphone apps.

Information technology expert Tracy Yanez said to be careful downloading and using apps you don't know much about. Check the reviews first, and look for crash reports and updates patching holes hackers could weasel in.

"They always have updates for bug fixes," she said. "That's always a good thing."

The latest one to hit a computer in her care was a "ransomware" scam. It starts with a popup, she said.

"What it did is it put out a public encryption on there and it asked for, of course, ransom money to release your files, and even though you pay that money, you don't get your files back," she said.

Next is the "remote-access" scam. People will contact you claiming to work for Microsoft and ask to connect to your computer to fix a virus, Yanez said. From there, they can take your info and even your keyboard punches.

That's where you need to buy the programs for protection.

"Hackers these days are making viruses that are both virus and malware together, so it's always good to have (protection against) those two running on your system," she said.

Tech experts think cloud storage systems may be the next target for scammers or hackers. That's why it's crucial you don't ignore updates to your software.

"The reason you get those updates is that Microsoft pushes out security updates for your operating system," Yanez said. "If they find any vulnerabilities, they push out the security updates. That way, you're protected."

Other tips:

Yanez says 14-character passwords are now considered the safest.

Don't automatically click on deals showing up on popups. They can be what's called a "drive-by download," another portal for problems.

With all that, it's no wonder the World Economic Forum believes bigger cyberattacks will be a defining global business issue for 2014.

For a list of recent stories Ursula Pari has done, click here.