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Norton’s Riskiest Online City Study Reveals American Cities with Highest Cybercrime Risk Factors

Smart phones, Wi-Fi, social networks – we’re doing more online than ever before. In fact, being constantly connected to our technology via mobile devices and online accounts is just part of our daily lives. Are you aware of the potential for cybercrime because of what you do, the devices you use, and important security steps you might be overlooking?

Today, Norton released the results of our 2012 Riskiest Online City study. We evaluated a combination of ten risk factors that might increase a person’s risk for cybercrime. The risk factors included each city’s real world cybercrime data from Symantec research and consumer data such as the amount of time spent online, availability of public Wi-Fi networks, adoption of social networking and use of smart phones. By crunching the numbers and evaluating the per capita rankings, Norton and partner Sperlings’ BestPlaces came up with the list of America’s 50 riskiest online cities.

Topping the list is Washington, D.C. at the #1 riskiest online city, followed by Seattle, WA and San Francisco, CA at cities #2 and #3. Now the reasons why one city might get a higher ranking than another can vary. In the case of Washington, the city ranked high for almost all the risk factors, including having a higher incidence of real world cybercrime activity (both infections and attempts on computers). San Francisco, where the residents tend to be extremely “wired” and early adopters of new technology, also enjoys a high number of publicly available Wi-Fi hotspots but ranked a bit lower in actual cybercrime activity, perhaps demonstrating higher levels of cyber safety awareness in that community.

The important take away for each of us is that the more we adopt, acquire and use new technology and online services, we have the potential to increase our risk for being hit by cybercrime. Yet, with awareness and vigilance, you can reduce that risk, no matter where you live in the world.  I have three tips to share to help you stay on top of some of the main issues for stopping cybercrime:

  1. Enjoy those Wi-Fi public hotspots with care. Make sure you connect to the authentic available network by asking what the name is. Be wary of unknown public wireless networks, even if the signal strength is high. Avoid conducting sensitive financial transactions like shopping or banking on a public network – save that activity for when you are at home on a network you know is secure.
  2. Manage those passwords! You already know that using the same password for all your accounts is a rookie mistake, but so many of us are qualifying for Password Rookie of the Year! You need to use unique and complex passwords that vary for each site or online account. What can make that manageable is a password manager. One I highly recommend is Norton’s Identity Safe, available in our security suites, in a free toolbar version and in a mobile “cloud-based” version, currently in beta called Norton Identity Safe as well.
  3. Stay educated about cybercrime. Cybercrime is an estimated $300 billion industry, bigger than the illegal drug trade. Yet it is a faceless crime, one that even victims can underestimate. Too often, there’s a delay from the time you are hit by cybercrime to the moment you become aware. This means it’s difficult to identify what you did that led to the malware or stolen data. Additionally too few of us report our experiences with cybercrime to law enforcement, which keeps official statistics artificially low. Up your own cybercrime intelligence quotient by joining us on our Facebook page or visiting the Norton.com site.

You can read the press release of the study here