Seattle Named As Riskiest Online City By Symantec

Web surfers in beware, after a Symantec survey named the Pacific Northwest city of Seattle as riskiest location in the United States.

Users in Seattle may want to ensure their security software is up to date after Symantec named that city as the riskiest place in the US, followed by Boston, Washington, DC, and San Francisco.

Recent statistics from the Internet Crime Complaint Center put the amount of losses Americans suffered in 2009 due to online fraud at close to $560 million (£370 million). But what cities are the most dangerous pound-for-pound?

According to an analysis by Symantec and research firm Sperling’s BestPlaces, Seattle ranks as the riskiest online city in America. The remaining top five in descending order are Boston; Washington, DC; San Francisco and Raleigh, NC.

The rankings were determined through a combination of data from Symantec Security Response as well as third-party data about online behaviour, such as accessing Wi-Fi hotspots and online banking. Each city was scored across a number of categories. For example: the number of malicious attacks per capita, prevalence of Internet use and the number of bot-infected machines per capita.

Seattle ranked near the top in numerous categories, and was in fact the only city in the study to be in the top 10 in each. Researchers placed Boston, San Francisco and DC high in part due to the large number of Wi-Fi hotspots, though Boston and DC both scored high in the area of cyber-crimes per capita as well. Raleigh finished high primarily due to the high percentage of people with Internet access and their participating in online activities.

“Despite people’s familiarity with technology and the Internet, this study shows that everyone is exposed to a certain level of risk when they are online,” said Bert Sperling, founder and researcher of Sperling’s Best Places, in a statement. “No matter where you live – be it Seattle or Detroit – it’s important to be vigilant in everyday online behaviour in order to protect yourself against cyber-crime of all types.”

The top 10 list is rounded out by: Atlanta; Minneapolis; Denver; Austin, Texas; and Portland, Ore. According to the research, Atlantaresidents experience the most cyber-attacks and potential infections, while Minneapolis and Portland are near the top for risky online behaviour. Denver and Austin scored high across the board, according to the study.

Of the 50 US cities examined, Detroit came in as the least risky online city, with residents less likely to participate in risky online behaviour. The city also ranked low in cyber-crime, wireless Internet access and Internet access generally compared to other cities. El Paso, Texas, and Memphis were the second and third safest cities, respectively.

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