Your worst hacking nightmares – and likely more to come

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — What’s worse: Your deepest sexual secrets exposed? Or a cyberattack on the country’s financial system?

If you were freaked out by the Adult FriendFinder hack, the other risks should really keep you up at night.

Stock market trading is electronic, and often automated and lightning-fast. We’re creating Internet-connected cars without protecting them first. Plus, the energy grid is under constant attack.

Here’s a warning from TrustedSec cybersecurity consultant David Kennedy, who spent time as a military hacker with the U.S. Marines.

“You’re seeing the early warning signs of something larger to come that’s going to be disastrous and change how we live day-to-day,” he said. “It’s only a matter of time until we see a cataclysmic cyberattack. It’ll be widespread and cause fear, panic, and a sense of hopelessness.”

This isn’t tinfoil hat stuff. President Obama, the NSA director and several CEOs have talked about how devastating a cyberattack on the nation’s infrastructure could be.

The Sony Pictures hack, blamed on North Korea, showed how a country could go to war with a corporation and nearly destroy it.

Meanwhile, hackers break into major banks. And the ex-NSA director says China has hacked “every major corporation” in United States, killing future economic growth by stealing blueprints from American businesses.

But even mere data breaches, like the Adult FriendFinder hack, carry a significant danger to victims. It reveals their sexual preferences — which threatens their relationships, careers and even their lives.

Consider that a tabloid in Uganda just published the names of “top homosexuals” the day after the country passed barbaric anti-gay laws. What damage could a tiny software bug in a dating app cause in a place where homosexuality is punishable by death, like Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, or Yemen?

“People should think twice about exposing this type of information to service providers without understanding what the company is doing to protect this sensitive data,” said cybersecurity expert Chris Wysopal of Veracode.

Hackers are relentless, talented at stealing data and getting better. And most companies don’t properly guard your data. Anthem. AOL. Target. Snapchat. But we give them our secrets anyway.

“Hopefully some good comes out of this and some people understand the real threats,” said Marcin Kleczynski, CEO of computer protection software maker Malwarebytes. “Maybe they will take steps to protect themselves and their data a little more.”