"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 Norton Internet safety advocate Marian Merritt in a statement. "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."
Known for its rain and coffee, among other things, Seattle took the top spot in the survey as a result of the number of malicious cyber attacks and malware detected in the area, in conjunction with the ubiquity of Wi-Fi hotspots and the "percentage of the city population engaging in computer risky computer use, such as online purchases, e-mail, and accessing financial information."
By Norton's standard, a safe computer appears to be one that's unplugged.
Other criteria used to measure risk include the number of spam zombies and the number of bot infected machines detected in the city.
According to Norton, almost 68% of Seattle residents are regular Internet users and about 29% use the Internet at least five times daily. In addition, more people in Seattle check their bank statements and pay their bills online (about 27%) than in any of the other 50 largest U.S. cities covered in the survey.
Seattle's proximity to Redmond, home of Microsoft, which makes the world's most popular -- and most attacked -- operating system, has no bearing on the survey data, a Symantec spokesperson said.
San Francisco, less than an hour's drive north of Apple, Google and the rest of Silicon Valley, earned a spot as the fourth riskiest city for cybercrime, due to high levels of Internet use and to having more Wi-Fi hot spots per capita than any other city in the survey. San Francisco has 113 Wi-Fi hotspots per 100,000 residents, compared to 103 in Seattle. Almost 60% of San Franciscans have broadband connections, more than any other city, according to Norton.
The ten riskiest cities for cybercrime, by Norton's measure, are: 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.
Annual losses due to cybercrime in 2009 reached $560 million, up from $265 million in 2008, according to the Internet Crime Complaint Center's 2009 Annual report.