Tips to protect your personal info online

We all want to think that we’re doing enough to keep our personal and financial information safe from hackers when we go online. 

But nearly 300 million people were affected by 1,862 corporate data breaches last year in the U.S. alone, according to the nonprofit Identity Theft Resource Center. Past studies from the University of Maryland show that hackers launch attacks roughly every 39 seconds.

Knowing how to repel those online “threat actors” before they gain access to your information and financial accounts starts with knowing how hackers think. That’s why some companies turn to Kevin Mitnick for cybersecurity advice.

Mitnick is a former hacker who spent five years in federal prison after being convicted of wire fraud and other crimes in 1995. For the past two decades, he’s been a computer security consultant whose firm, Mitnick Security Consulting, advises clients from government agencies to Fortune 500 companies like Microsoft.

Personal cybersecurity often boils down to “a balance between security and convenience,” Mitnick says. Most people are aware of some of the basic steps they should take to keep their data safe, but as soon as they inconvenient to regularly follow, people get sloppier — leaving a potential window of opportunity open for hackers.

“The more security a consumer wants, the more inconvenient it will be,” Mitnick tells CNBC Make It.

From simpler tactics, like getting a better handle on your laundry list of account passwords, to more advanced options — including one that Mitnick says could improve your chances of evading hackers by 98% — the cybersecurity expert lays out several tips for the average person looking to beef up their online security and avoid getting hacked.

Where to start: Manage your passwords