Why Is Cybersecurity Important: Creating a Strong Password in 2024

Zach Beckel

Chief Technology Officer

February 7, 2024

Did you know that it takes less than an hour for hackers to access your stolen data once it's posted on the dark web?  Yes, you read that right. KSL TV interviewed Crane Hassold, senior director of Threat Research for Agari, who discovered this scary fact. He also said 40% of illegal data could be accessed by cybercriminals on the dark web within six hours. 

With hackers finding faster ways to gain unauthorized access, understanding why cybersecurity is important is a must. In this blog, we’ll guide you through the essentials of digital defense with a main focus on creating stronger passwords in 2024. 

Tip #1 Stop using passwords with all lowercase 

The more complex your password, the harder it is for someone to crack it. Use uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.

Why does this matter? Consider the math presented by Scientific American regarding password possibilities. Using just lowercase letters like 'auntie' or 'secret' means a hacker has to guess from 308,915,776 combinations. Although it looks a lot, computers can make millions of guesses per second.

Tip #2 Length matters

Short passwords are out. Long passwords are in for better information security. The longer your password, the more combinations a hacker has to try. Aim for at least 12 characters. This length strikes a balance between being hard to crack and easy for you to remember. 

Tip #3 Avoid the obvious

It’s tempting to use easy-to-remember details like your birthday, your pet’s name, or sequential letters and numbers (like '123456' or 'abcdef'). But if it’s easy for you to remember, it’s easy for a hacker to guess. CNBC reported that some of the most common passwords, as of 2023, are: 

  • 123456
  • admin
  • password
  • 000000
  • ********    
  • user

Tip #4 Use phrases

One way to create a long, complex password that you can still remember is to think of a phrase or sentence. Take the first letter of each word, mix in some numbers and symbols, and you’ve got a strong password. For example, "My cat Whiskers was born in 2010!" could become "McWwbi2010!" Of course, don't use that password once this blog gets published. 

Tip #5 Change it up

Why is cybersecurity important? Well, because you always use the same password everywhere. If a hacker gets their hands on one password, they’ll try it on all your accounts. Try to mix it up. Use a password manager if you need help keeping track. These tools generate strong passwords for you and store them securely.

Tip #6 Update regularly

Even the strongest password shouldn’t be set in stone. Change your passwords regularly to stay a step ahead of hackers and improve your data security. If you can do it every week (the better!), setting a reminder to update your passwords every few months is also a good practice.

Tip #7 Multi-factor authentication is your friend

Whenever possible, enable multi-factor authentication (MFA). This adds an extra layer of security by requiring a second form of verification (like a code sent to your phone) in addition to your password. Even if someone guesses your password, without the second code, they can’t get in.

Why is cybersecurity important in today's digital age?

Why is cybersecurity important? 

Now that you know how to create a stronger password in 2024, let's answer why you need to protect your data and why cybersecurity is important. 

Imagine your business is a vault where you keep all your treasures—your customers' trust, your company's data, and your reputation. Cybersecurity is the lock on that vault. It's vital because, in the digital world, there are always people trying to pick that lock. Without strong cybersecurity, it's only a matter of seconds before they get in. 

Hackers are constantly on the lookout for any weakness, ready to steal sensitive data, disrupt your services, or even hold your data for ransom. The consequences? Lost trust, financial damage, and a tarnished reputation that can take years to rebuild. For businesses, especially, a breach in your information systems can also mean legal repercussions if customer data is compromised.

In short, robust cybersecurity is your digital defense mechanism. It's about protecting your online identity, ensuring your emails stay private, and keeping your business operations running smoothly without interruption.

Types of cyberattacks that can affect your business

Types of cyber attacks (you should be aware of)

No matter how strong your passwords are, you can still be a victim if you don't know how attackers work. Here's a list of common cybersecurity attacks you should know: 

Phishing: The art of digital deception

Phishing is like a con artist trying to trick you into handing over the keys to your digital kingdom. Hackers send emails or messages that look legit, say, from a bank or a familiar service, asking you to click a link or provide personal information. It's all a ruse to steal your login details or personal data. This is where the importance of cybersecurity takes place. 

Ransomware: The digital kidnapper

Imagine someone locking up all your important files and demanding money to give them back. That's ransomware for you. It sneaks into your system, encrypts your files, and asks for a ransom to unlock them. Protect sensitive data by regularly backing them up and keeping your network security updated.

Malware: The silent infector

Malware is a broad term for any malicious software designed to harm or exploit any programmable device, service, or network. Why is cybersecurity important against malware? 

The reason is malware commonly sneaks in, often disguised as harmless software, and then it wreaks havoc—stealing data or intellectual property, damaging systems, or spying on your activities. Be wary of downloading software from unknown sources, and always keep your antivirus updated.

SQL injection: The database hacker

This attack targets websites by manipulating SQL queries. Hackers insert malicious code into a website's input field, tricking the site into giving them unauthorized access to the database. This can lead to stolen data and compromised personal information. If you're running a website, ensure it's coded with firewalls to reject these attempts.

Man-in-the-Middle (MitM) attacks: The eavesdropper

Imagine having a private conversation, not knowing someone is secretly listening. MitM attacks happen when a hacker intercepts communication between two parties, usually over unsecured Wi-Fi networks, to steal or manipulate the data being exchanged. When you have small businesses, try to avoid using public Wi-Fi for sensitive transactions or use a VPN to encrypt your data.

DoS and DDoS attacks: The overwhelmers

Denial of Service (DoS) and Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks are some of the reasons why cybersecurity is important. 

These attacks can flood a website or network with so much traffic that it can't cope, shutting it down and denying service to legitimate users. It's like a crowd of fake customers blocking the entrance to your store so real customers can't get in. Protecting against these attacks often requires specialized security measures and infrastructure.

Zero-day exploits: The unknown threat

A zero-day exploit takes advantage of a security vulnerability before a fix or patch is available. It's like a thief finding a hidden entrance to your house that you didn't even know existed. Keeping your software up to date and following security news can help mitigate these risks.

Inside threats: The betrayal

Sometimes, the danger comes from within, which is why cybersecurity is important. Disgruntled employees or those with malicious intent can abuse their access to steal or damage data. Limiting access to sensitive information only to those who need it and monitoring unusual activity are ways to guard against these threats.

Steps you should do when faced with a breach

What to do during a cyber threat or data breach 

When your online data gets stolen, what should you do? Don't panic; here are steps you can take to protect yourself when faced with a security breach. 

Change your passwords immediately

First things first, change your passwords in your computer systems. And we're not talking about just tweaking them a bit. Go for strong, unique passwords for each of your accounts. If remembering all of them sounds like a nightmare, consider using a password manager. 

Alert your financial institutions

Got your bank details or credit card information stolen? Contact your bank or credit card company right away. They can monitor your accounts for suspicious activity and, if necessary, freeze them to prevent further unauthorized transactions.

Keep an eye on your accounts

When you start to understand why cybersecurity is important, it becomes natural for you to start monitoring your financial and online accounts, especially if you have experienced an attack. Look out for any transactions or activities you don't recognize. If you see anything fishy, report it immediately.

Report the theft

If you're a victim of identity theft or a significant data breach, report it. In the U.S., you can go to the Federal Trade Commission’s website and file a report. Think of it as alerting the digital authorities so they can help catch the culprits.

Consider a credit freeze or fraud alert

Putting a freeze on your credit can stop thieves from opening new accounts in your name. A fraud alert, on the other hand, makes it harder for someone to open accounts in your name by requiring extra verification. 

Update your software

Why is cybersecurity important? Because hackers love to exploit outdated software. To fix that, ensure your computer and devices are up-to-date with the latest security patches and software updates.

Be wary of phishing attempts

After a data breach, scammers might try to trick you into giving more personal information. Be skeptical of emails or calls asking for personal details, even if they seem legit. 

Contact a cybersecurity specialist

Finally, if you're running a company, it's wise to get professional help. Contacting a Managed Service Provider (MSP) specializing in cybersecurity can be a game-changer. They're the experts who can help secure your business's digital environment, assess the damage, and prevent future breaches. 

Why choose UDNI?

Seek help from cybersecurity professionals at UDNI

When pondering why cybersecurity is important, it's essential to consider who you're entrusting with your digital safety. Enter UDNI, a beacon of cybersecurity excellence and IT management for over 20 years.

With a strong commitment to NIST Cybersecurity Standards and a history of helping businesses thrive in the digital age, our team stands out as a trusted partner in protecting your online world.

Our company offers a comprehensive suite of services, from cybersecurity defenses like continuous monitoring and security patching to IT management and technology consulting. Our focus on proactive monitoring and maintenance ensures that your business isn't just protected but also prepared to face any digital challenges ahead.

Contact us now!

Take the next step with our cyber security team! 

Don't wait for a breach to realize the value of professional cybersecurity. Whether you're interested in enhancing your cybersecurity framework, managing your IT infrastructure, or seeking expert consulting, UDNI has the expertise to elevate your cybersecurity measures. 

Contact us at (814) 631-1700 or send an email to info@udni.com for a free consultation. 

Frequently asked questions

What is the importance of cybersecurity in today's digital age?

The importance of cybersecurity cannot be overstressed in today's digital age, where financial losses due to cyber threats are a significant concern for individuals and businesses alike. Effective cybersecurity strategies protect digital assets and maintain the integrity of information systems.

How do the types of cybersecurity protect your digital systems?

Types of cybersecurity, including network security, cloud security, and information system security, are essential in defending against cyber threats. Each type plays a crucial role in securing digital systems from unauthorized access and ensuring the safety of sensitive data in today's interconnected digital landscape.

Why is 2024 considered a critical year for cybersecurity efforts?

In 2024, the cybersecurity landscape has evolved, making cybersecurity more critical than ever. With advancements in digital systems since the last year of 2023, the potential for cybersecurity threats has increased, emphasizing the need for robust security systems.

How can starting a career in cybersecurity make a difference?

Starting a career in cybersecurity is about protecting digital assets and contributing to a safer digital world. A career in cybersecurity offers the opportunity to work on the front lines of defense against cyber threats.

What is the importance of a cybersecurity degree in building a cybersecurity workforce?

A cybersecurity degree is foundational in building a knowledgeable cybersecurity workforce. It provides essential education and cybersecurity certification opportunities, preparing individuals with the skills needed to address cybersecurity risks and implement effective cybersecurity practices.

Why is investing in cybersecurity education and practices critical for businesses?

Investing in cybersecurity education and practices is critical for businesses to protect against cybersecurity threats and avoid financial losses. Educating employees about security protocols and implementing advanced cybersecurity measures can significantly enhance an organization's security posture in today's digital age.

What are the key reasons why cybersecurity is critical for protecting social security numbers and personal information?

Cybersecurity is critical for protecting social security numbers and personal information from cybersecurity threats. With the rise of digital assets and the increased use of digital systems, ensuring robust security measures and adopting comprehensive cybersecurity practices are essential.