Top 10 "Riskiest" Online Cities of 2012 Presented by Norton

February 15, 2012

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA--(Marketwire -02/15/12)- Norton teamed up with independent research firm Sperling's BestPlaces to uncover the nation's top 10 cities(1) that have the highest number of cybercrime risk factors.

This year marks the second time Norton and Sperling's BestPlaces have collaborated to highlight the various factors that contribute to potential risk.

The Top 10 Riskiest Online Cities in the U.S. are:

#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

Cities with the greatest risk factors do not necessarily correlate with the highest infection rates, reflecting the fact that many consumers are taking precautions to keep themselves 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. "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."

Sperling's BestPlaces determined the per-capita rankings by examining several consumer behaviors -- from the prevalence of PCs and smartphones, to ecommerce, social networking and accessing potentially unsecured Wi-Fi hotspots, among others.

  • As the leading riskiest online city, Washington, D.C., placed exceptionally high in almost all the categories measuring potential risk, and had the second-highest reported usage of smartphones. The nation's capital also ranked high among cybercrime data factors, including attempted malware infections and attempted Web attacks.

  • The second city on the list, Seattle, which was the riskiest online city in 2010, scored at the top in the majority of the categories surveyed, including email usage and social networking activity. Both Seattle and San Francisco (which ranked third), reported high numbers of Wi-Fi hotspots and hours spent on the Internet.

  • Residents of Atlanta and Boston, which ranked fourth and fifth respectively, share high rankings among the cybercrime data. In particular, Atlanta recorded the highest per-capita number of spamming IP addresses. Both cities' inhabitants exhibit a tendency toward potentially risky online consumer behavior, such as online financial transactions.

  • The other cities in the top 10 include Denver, Minneapolis, Sacramento, Raleigh and Austin. According to the research, Denver and Minneapolis placed high among potentially risky factors within the cybercrime data. Sacramento, the only city that wasn't included on the 2010 top 10 list, ranked above average across all categories, while Raleigh and Austin reported high levels of risky online behavior.

"With the explosion of smartphones, 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," said Marian Merritt, Norton Internet Safety Advocate. "While there are many positive aspects as a result, this analysis highlights the potentially risky factors we face each time we go online. By taking a few simple precautions now, people can make sure they stay protected against online threats."

Of the 50 U.S. cities examined, Detroit was once again ranked the least risky online city, returning low scores in the number of Wi-Fi hotspots, potentially risky online consumer behavior and PC expenditures. Other low-ranked cities include Tulsa and El Paso, which placed in the 48th and 49th spots, respectively.

"Here at the National White Collar Crime Center, we've long worked to serve law enforcement in the prevention, investigation and prosecution of Internet crime -- a fight that has never been more important as we move into an increasingly connected world," said Greg Donewar, manager of the National White Collar Crime Center. "In fact, over the past year, we've seen a considerable increase in cybercrime attacks, and whether a person lives in the riskiest online city or the safest, consumers everywhere need to be aware of the inherent dangers of online activity."

Top 3 Safety Tips from Norton
1. Proceed with caution when using Wi-Fi hotspots
Wi-Fi hotspots are a great resource, but make sure you're using a secured network if conducting online purchases or banking from a laptop, tablet or smartphone.
2. Use complex and unique passwords for each site
Use a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, symbols and numbers and make your passwords as random as possible. It's also good practice to change your passwords regularly, but managing all these passwords can be tricky. Norton offers a free, cloud-enabled service that allows consumers to easily and securely store and synchronize logins, passwords, credit cards, and other Web form information across browsers and devices. ID Safe beta is available for free download from IdentitySafe-beta.norton.com
3. Stay educated
For more information and tips on staying safe no matter where you live, visit Norton's Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/Norton and Norton.com for a complete list of consumer security products.

The Complete Rankings

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

About Norton
Norton protects the Stuff that matters to consumers, across all aspects of their digital lives. Norton provides a range of security solutions including technologies for PCs and mobile devices, live tech support services and online backup. Like Norton on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/norton.

About Sperling's BestPlaces
Bert Sperling has been helping people find their own "Best Place" to live, work and retire for more than 20 years. His firm, Sperling's BestPlaces, puts facts in the hands of the public so they can make better decisions about best places to live, work, retire, play, or relocate. His bestselling books, "Cities Ranked and Rated" and "Best Places to Raise Your Family," are published by John Wiley & Sons. More information about Bert and his work is available at www.bestplaces.net.

(1) Top 10 "Riskiest" Online Cities of 2012 analyzed 50 of the largest cities in the United States, by population defined by the U.S. Census Bureau. See complete rankings included.