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Seattle, Boston top list of U.S. cities most at risk of cyber crime

March 22, 2010 |  7:52 am

Seattle might be a beautiful city in its own right, but according to a new study from security firm Symantec, it's also the nation's "riskiest" city when it comes to cyber crime.Symantec

Symantec examined 50 U.S. cities using 24-million security sensors that monitor malicious-attack activity around the globe. The company looked at a wide array of security issues, including attacks used to gain access to a user's PC, viruses and worms, computers that have been overtaken specifically to send out spam, and bot-infected computers used by malicious hackers to infect other machines.

To determine a city's cyber-crime risk, Symantec examined the frequency of those security attacks. It also considered the availability of Web access and high-risk activities that people typically engage in, such as connecting to a Wi-Fi hot spot or making online purchases without a secure connection. Each city was individually scored on a per-capita basis to determine "riskiness."

According to Symantec, Seattle scored "near the top" in every criterion it used to determine risk. The security firm found that Seattle was heavily affected by cyber attacks. Its citizens are also more likely to access the Web each day and use the Internet to make bank transactions than people in any other city.

Boston closely followed Seattle in terms of risk. According to Symantec, the city suffers from an inordinate amount of spam (the third-highest tally of spam infections in the study) that, combined with heavy Web use, helps make Boston a potentially dangerous city for Web users.

Washington, D.C., which ranked fourth overall in frequency of cyber crimes, took the third spot in Symantec's risk study. It was followed by San Francisco and Raleigh, N.C., to round out the top five. Atlanta, which ranked sixth in Symantec's study, had the highest number of cyber-crime attacks.

Neither New York City nor Los Angeles made the top 10, even though they had extremely large populations.

Whether Symantec's study will change practices in risky cities remains to be seen. But it effectively highlights the fact that Web users continually engage in risky actions without properly securing their data beforehand.

Unfortunately, the Web is becoming an increasingly scary place, and Web users are finding that out the hard way.

-- Don Reisinger

twitter.com/donreisinger

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