Note: A special thanks to Marian Merritt, Norton Internet Safety Advocate, who wrote this guest blog post about a survey that uncovered the nation’s top 10 cities most vulnerable to cybercrime. Read the post below to find out how your home city ranked. The findings are a wake up call on the importance of consumers taking proactive steps to protect themselves online. Cybercriminals are very organized and strategic! This is exactly why Comcast has the Constant Guard program, why we encourage people to beware of bots, why we have our dedicated Security Channel and why we offer our high-speed Internet customers the Norton Security Suite for no additional cost. If you haven’t downloaded Norton yet, I strongly encourage you to do so. - Jay Opperman
Love living in Seattle? There’s so much to love about the “Emerald City”: beautiful scenery, terrific people, a rich and varied cultural life. But what if I tell you that Seattle is America’s Riskiest Online City? It’s true; not only are the residents of this coffee-loving, coastal spot most at risk for a cybercrime attack, it’s the very elements that make Seattle life so interesting that increase their online risks.
Symantec/Norton recently teamed up with independent research firm Sperling’s BestPlaces to find and expose the nation’s top 10 cities most vulnerable to cybercrime. We looked at the research from Symantec’s Security Response team, a global group of Internet security researchers who monitor the world’s cybercrime. Taking the data, correlating it with Internet protocol (IP) addresses and then associating that attack data with city locations where those IP addresses are assigned, the research team could measure cybercrime data on a per capita basis. We looked at the following data to determine their cybercrime ranking:
- The number of attempted cyberattacks
- The number of potential malware infections
- The number of operating spam zombies
- The number of bot-infected computers
Next, Sperling’s BestPlaces researched other risk-related data for each major US city. They found information on the level of Internet access, expenditures on software and hardware, availability of wireless (Wi-Fi) hotspots, adoption and availability of broadband, and online risky behaviors like online banking and shopping. Combining that per capita information with the cybercrime information allowed us to rank each city and find those whose residents are at the greatest potential cybercrime risk.
Seattle was the clear leader, being the only city to rank in the top 10 for each of the study’s categories. The rest of the top ten, in order, are Boston, Washington D.C., San Francisco, Raleigh (NC), Atlanta, Minneapolis, Denver, Austin, Portland (OR).These are some of the most tech-savvy cities in the nation, proving that even skilled and experienced Internet users are at risk when it comes to cybercrime and online security.
Want to see how your home city ranked? Visit the website: www.nortonriskiestonlinecities.com for more information on the methodology and a listing of all 50 U.S. cities in the study.
What strikes me about the results of the study is that they’re consistent with a multiyear cybercrime trend Symantec/Norton has been monitoring. Cybercriminals are far more organized and strategic in their efforts than many people may realize. We’re seeing more targeted attacks where the spam pretending to originate in your bank actually looks like it comes from a bank in your city. Or where the e-mail from the IT department actually looks like it might come from within your organization. “Spear phishing”, where the attack aims at high net worth individuals like corporate executives and celebrities, is on the rise. As cybercrime becomes more personalized, we’re more likely to forget the best practices for online security and click a link or respond to an e-mail. We’re seeing a huge increase in attacks within our social networks and micro-blogging services for similar reasons. Where we feel comfortable, where we think we know and can trust everyone, we’re less likely to be suspicious of an unknown link or strange request.
No matter where your city ranks on the list, you must continue to follow online safety best practices to decrease your online risk.
- Use legitimate security software with comprehensive protection and keep it up to date.
- Keep your computer’s operating system, browser and other Internet software up to date and patched.
- Always assume your Wi-Fi connections are being eavesdropped on. Save your sensitive financial transactions (shopping, banking, taxes) until you’re safely at home or at another secure location.
- Use complex passwords and unique ones for each site. One Seattle resident I know was hacked on his e-mail, which allowed the crook to hack his social network and convince his duped friends to send emergency funds.
- Be cautious about ads and pop-ups. We’ve seen a huge increase in fake antivirus products, tricking users into downloading malicious software and then demanding money to get the programs off the computer.
- Stay educated, stay informed. Visit the Comcast Security site for more information about how to stay safe and enjoy your online time, no matter where you live.