KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Experts say you cannot completely protect your personal information from hackers, but despite that frightening reality, there are things you can do to minimize your chances of becoming a victim.
Newschannel 3 turned to someone who knows how to hack, to get an inside look at the mistakes people make.
David Leonard had a look of shock on his face.
"I had no idea the information was that accessible , particularly financial information," said Leonard.
Leonard agreed to let someone who knows how to hack, try to gain access to his computer. Jared DeMott now owns the security consulting business VDA Labs, in Kent County. He used to work for the National Security Agency.
He gained access to Leonard's web camera, capturing video of him working on his computer. He also found his tax return, with social security number, and financial information.
DeMott, used Newschannel 3's Kirk Mason to bait Leonard without Mason knowing. He set up an email that looked like Mason's, with his name and WWMT's letters.
He then sent a link to Leonard that he thought was from Mason.
DeMott gained access to Leonard's computer, when he claimed Leonard had to click on the link to gain access to some information.
"Why would I do that, if I had to show you why wouldn't I just paste that into an email," said DeMott. "So kind of think through what the person is sending you, does this make sense?"
Most times, a hacker would need you to click on something to gain access to your computer.
DeMott says newer computers and always updating to the latest software offer better protection. But he says the most important thing is not clicking on links, or opening suspicious attachments.
"A lot of people feel like, pick a vendor name and a virus software program, installed on my computer, then I'm safe," said DeMott. "It doesn't matter. Typically the majority of those don't stop any of the attacks I did."
If hackers know your name, and your hometown, it is very likely they can find your phone number and email address.
Jared DeMott sent texts to David Leonard's phone, claiming to be from WWMT.
"Hey David it's Tom, Kirk's assistant from WWMT news. He wanted me to let you know to check your email tonight if at all possible," one text read.
The text came from an unused 269 area code number, not from WWMT.
"He was able to see what I was doing. When I was working on my computer this morning. A visual picture of me sitting at the computer. So that was an eye opener," said Leonard.
DeMott says 2016 was the worst hacking year ever, and he expects 2017 to be even worse.
But while many individuals worry about becoming victims on computers in their homes, business owners may have the most to worry about.
DeMott works with businesses, some of whom he has had to bring back from the brink of financial collapse, temporarily shut down by hackers.