In the not exactly thrilling 1995 cyber-thriller The Net, Sandra Bullock's character, Angela Bennett, reveals that she was raised in La Junta -- a community whose name she pronounces as if she were Hugo Chavez. Little did Bennett know, however, that her hometown would share a state with a nexus for online crime fifteen years in the future.
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That's the contention of Symantec, maker of anti-virus software, which today issued its list of the top ten riskiest online cities -- and Denver came in at number eight. According to Symantec, the rankings "were determined through a combination of Symantec Security Response's data on cyberattacks and potential malware infections, as well as third-party data about online behavior, such as accessing wifi hotspots and online shopping."
Look below to see who finished below D-town on the risk survey. Clearly, the net -- and The Net -- remain dangerous places.
The Norton Top 10 Riskiest Online Cities Report Reveals Who's Most Vulnerable to Cybercrime Seattle Tops the List with its Residents at Greatest Risk
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. -- March 22, 2010 -- Cybercrime, a threat that affects one in five online shoppers¹ and cost Americans $560 million in 2009 due to online fraud², may hit closer to home than many realize. Norton from Symantec (Nasdaq: SYMC) teamed up with independent research firm Sperling's BestPlaces to find and expose the nation's top 10 cities most vulnerable to cybercrime.
The following are ranked the Norton Top 10 Riskiest Online Cities:
1. Seattle 2. Boston 3. Washington, D.C. 4. San Francisco 5. Raleigh, N.C. 6. Atlanta 7. Minneapolis 8. Denver 9. Austin, Texas 10. Portland, Ore.
The rankings were determined through a combination of Symantec Security Response's data on cyberattacks and potential malware infections, as well as third-party data about online behavior, such as accessing wifi hotspots and online shopping.
* At the top of the rankings, Seattle claims the dubious distinction of America's leading riskiest cybercrime city, placing near the top in categories such as cyberattacks and potential infections; online behavior that can expose people more to cybercrime, such as online shopping and banking online; and wireless Internet access.
* Boston and Washington, D.C. follow in second and third place. Both cities experience a very high level of cybercrime, perhaps due in part to their large number of WiFi hotpots.
* High-tech hubs San Francisco and Raleigh are ranked fourth and fifth. San Francisco tops the list for riskiest online behavior and highest number of WiFi hotspots per capita. Many of these cities are considered 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 insecurity.
* Rounding out the top 10 are Atlanta, Minneapolis, Denver, Austin and Portland. According to the Norton research, Atlanta residents experience the most cyberattacks and potential infections. Minneapolis and Portland are near the top for risky online behavior, while Denver and Austin score high across the board.
"With more people than ever relying on the Internet to stay in touch, shop and pay their bills, feeling confident and secure in our information-driven world is vital," said Marian Merritt, Norton Internet Safety Advocate. "This study highlights the cities most at risk of cybercrime and reminds individuals, families and businesses across the country of the hazards they face each time they go online. We're here to educate consumers about how to protect themselves and ideally never fall victim to cybercrime."
Of the 50 U.S. cities examined, Detroit came in as the least risky online city. Motor City's residents were less likely to participate in risky online behavior compared to other cities in the study, and it also ranked low in cybercrime, access to the Internet, expenditures on computer equipment, and wireless Internet access. El Paso, Texas and Memphis, Tenn. came in second and third, respectively, on the list of least risky online cities.
"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. "No matter where you live - be it Seattle or Detroit - it's important to be vigilant in everyday online behavior in order to protect yourself against cybercrime of all types."
Top 3 Safety Tips from Norton
No matter where your city ranks on the list, people everywhere can benefit from online safety tips to help prevent becoming a victim of a cybercrime:
* Use legitimate security software that offers comprehensive protection against known and unknown online threats - There are a lot of security solutions to choose from, but comprehensive security solutions like Norton Internet Security and Norton 360 will help ensure you're fully protected against malware, spyware, hackers, zero-day threats, and identity theft. Parents should also protect their kids too from online threats and inappropriate content by using OnlineFamily.Norton, a free family safety solution.
* Always keep your computer's operating system and the software you run on it patched - Don't ignore prompts to update your OS or applications with critical security fixes. Cybercriminals can get in through "holes" in unpatched computers.
* Stay educated - Visit the Norton site www.everyclickmatters.com and download the Norton Family Online Safety Guide to learn more about the realities of cybercrime and how to stay protected.
For more information, please visit www.NortonRiskiestOnlineCities.com.
To develop these rankings, researchers at Sperling's BestPlaces analyzed data for each city including the number of cyberattacks and potential infections (data provided by Symantec Security Response), level of Internet access, expenditures on computer hardware and software, wireless hotspots, broadband connectivity, Internet usage and online purchases.
The Norton Top 10 Riskiest Online Cities study analyzed 50 of the largest cities in the United States, by population defined by the U.S. Census Bureau.
Full survey content and additional details regarding methodology, criteria and sources are available upon request.
1. Seattle 2. Boston 3. Washington, D.C. 4. San Francisco 5. Raleigh, N.C. 6. Atlanta 7. Minneapolis 8. Denver 9. Austin, Texas 10. Portland, Ore. 11. Honolulu 12. Charlotte, N.C. 13. Las Vegas 14. San Diego 15. Colorado Springs, Colo. 16. Sacramento, Calif. 17. Pittsburgh 18. Oakland, Calif. 19. Nashville-Davidson, Tenn. 20. San Jose, Calif. 21. Columbus, Ohio 22. Dallas 23. Kansas City, Mo. 24. New York 25. Indianapolis 26. Albuquerque, N.M. 27. Miami 28. Omaha, Neb. 29. Virginia Beach, Va. 30, Los Angeles 31. Cincinnati, Ohio 32. Houston 33. St. Louis, Mo. 34. Phoenix 35. Chicago 36. Baltimore 37. Oklahoma City 38. Philadelphia 39. Jacksonville, Fl. 40. Tulsa, Okla. 41. San Anonio 42. Milwaukee 43. Cleveland 44. Tuscon, Ariz. 45. Long Beach, Calif. 46. Fort Worth, Texas 47. Fresno, Calif. 48. Memphis, Tenn. 49. El Paso, Texas 50. Detroit