The riskiest cities for cyber crime: Where does yours rank?
Washington, D.C., has climbed to the top of the list of cities with the highest risk of cybercrime, according to a new report by Symantec’s Norton Internet Security and Sperling’s BestPlaces.
Seattle, San Francisco, Atlanta and Boston round out the top five in the second cyber risk study by the two organizations.
And what makes one city more risky than another? To judge from the factors weighed in the report, it mostly comes down to using the Internet.
“In our examination of the riskiest online cities, we’ve considered a number of factors that can potentially affect online safety,” Bert Sperling, founder of Sperling’s BestPlaces, said in the report. The per-capita risk rankings factored in consumer behaviors including prevalence of PCs and smart phones, use of e-commerce applications, social networking and the availability of potentially unsecured Wi-Fi hotspots.
Washington, which scored high in almost all of the study’s risk factors, had the second-highest reported use of smart phones of cities in the study, for example. It also ranked high in cybercrime factors such as malware infections and Web attacks, which isn’t surprising for the nation’s political and military capital.
Seattle, which was the riskiest city in the previous 2010 report, (Washington was third), scored at the top in use of e-mail and social networking. And Seattle and San Francisco had high numbers of Wi-Fi hotspots and hours spent on the Internet, according to the report.
Atlanta and Boston, the other members of the top five, reported high instances of online financial transactions and other potentially risky behavior.
Detroit, in last place on the list of risky cities, scored low in Wi-Fi hotspots, potentially risky online consumer behavior and PC expenditures.
“With the explosion of smart phones, tablets and laptops in recent years, and the rise of apps and social networking sites, our online and offline lives are blending together in ways that we’ve never before experienced,” Marian Merritt, Norton Internet Safety Advocate, said in the report.
“While there are many positive aspects as a result, this analysis highlights the potentially risky factors we face each time we go online,” Marritt said. “By taking a few simple precautions now, people can make sure they stay protected against online threats.”
Norton offered three steps people can use to protect themselves:
1. Be careful when using Wi-Fi hotspots.
2. Use complex and unique passwords for each site.
3. Stay educated on threats and preventive steps.
The complete rankings:
3. San Francisco
11. Las Vegas
12. San Diego
13. San Jose
17. Kansas City
20. Colorado Springs
22. St. Louis
30. New York
32. Fort Worth
35. Los Angeles
38. Oklahoma City
42. Virginia Beach
43. San Antonio
44. Long Beach
49. El Paso
Kevin McCaney is a former editor of Defense Systems and GCN.