Is Your City the ‘Riskiest’ for Cybercrime?

New list uncovers top-50 cities with the most risk factors for online security issues.

by / February 16, 2012

Head’s up, Washington, D.C. — according to a list compiled by online security provider Norton and research firm Sperling’s BestPlaces, the U.S. capital has the highest number of cybercrime risk factors in the nation. Seattle, San Francisco, Atlanta and Boston round-out the top-five riskiest places.

The evaluation took a close look at data from a total of 50 U.S. cities, examining factors such as the number of computers and mobile devices in a city, unsecured Wi-Fi hot spots and social networking use, in determining the rankings.

While cities with the greatest risk factors don’t generally mean they have highest infection rates, reflection that many consumers have taken steps to keep their online information safe.

“In our examination of the riskiest online cities, we’ve considered a number of factors that can potentially affect online safety,” said Bert Sperling, founder of Sperling’s BestPlaces and lead researcher for the analysis, in a statement. “By looking at data from consumer lifestyle habits as well as cybercrime data provided by Symantec, maker of Norton products, we’re able to provide a holistic view of the various factors that put a person at potential risk.”

The research found that Washington D.C. had placed high in almost all of the factors measuring potential risk, including the second-highest usage of smartphones. The city also placed high in other criteria, including attempted malware infections and Web attacks.

Seattle, which topped list of riskiest cities in 2010, was also at the top in many of the risk categories, including email use and social networking.

The complete 50-city list is:

1. Washington, D.C.
2. Seattle
3. San Francisco
4. Atlanta
5. Boston
6. Denver
7. Minneapolis
8. Sacramento, Calif.
9. Raleigh, N.C.
10. Austin, Texas
11. Las Vegas
12. San Diego
13. San Jose, Calif.
14. Honolulu
15. Dallas
16. Portland, Ore.
17. Kansas City
18. Baltimore
19. Chicago
20. Colorado Springs, Colo.
21. Oakland, Calif.
22. St. Louis
23. Miami
24. Houston, Texas
25. Charlotte, N.C.
26. Cincinnati, Ohio
27. Philadelphia
28. Columbus, Ohio
29. Indianapolis, Ind.
30. New York
31. Phoenix
32. Fort Worth, Texas
33. Cleveland
34. Omaha, Neb.
35. Los Angeles
36. Nashville-Davidson County, Tenn.
37. Milwaukee
38. Oklahoma City
39. Pittsburgh
40. Jacksonville, Fla.
41. Albuquerque, N.M.
42. Virginia Beach, Va.
43. San Antonio, Texas
44. Long Beach, Calif.
45. Tucson, Ariz.
46. Fresno, Calif.
47. Memphis, Tenn.
48. Tulsa, Okla.
49. El Paso, Texas
50. Detroit

So what can people in the riskiest cities do to protect themselves? Norton had three tips to share:

  •  Proceed with caution when using Wi-Fi hot spots — making sure you’re on a secured network when conducting online purchases or doing banking
  •  Use complex and unique passwords for each website — a combination of letters and numbers is highly recommended, as is changing passwords regularly.
  • Stay educated — keep an eye on the latest information and tips regarding cybersecurity.