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The Top 10 U.S. Cities At Risk For Cybercrime

Seattle ranks No. 1 most vulnerable city in cybercrime incidents, according to new Symantec Norton, Sperling's BestPlaces report
Living near Microsoft's headquarters apparently doesn't make you any safer from cybercrime: Seattle has been named the most at-risk place to live for online crime.

Symantec Norton and Sperling's BestPlaces ranked 50 U.S. cities by their susceptibility to cybercrime incidents. The top 10 cities are, in order, Seattle, Boston, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Raleigh, N.C., Atlanta, Minneapolis, Denver, Austin, and Portland, Ore.

Rankings were scored using data from Symantec Security Response on the number of malicious attacks, bots, and potential malware infections, as well as the level of Internet access, expenditures on computer hardware and software, wireless hotspot availability, broadband availability, Internet usage, and online purchases.

Detroit was the least risky online city, according to the report (PDF), mainly because it had few cybercrime incidents, less Internet access, and its residents were less likely to engage in risky online behavior compared with other cities. Next in line for least risky were El Paso, Texas, and Memphis, Tenn.

Gary Warner, director of research in computer forensics at the University of Alabama, says a different look at the cities would show a different outcome. In a blog posting today, Warner says cybercrime rates would appear higher in cities with greater populations of retirees using computers, lower levels of education, and where there are the newest computer users.

"The Symantec report assumes that the greatest dangers are in the most wired cities (rate goes up for broadband acceptance, wifi hotspots, etc.)," Warner blogged. "I honestly believe that a different look at the numbers would show that rates of cybercrime are higher in places with higher populations of retired computer users, a lower education (or at least CYBER education) level, and places where computers have only recently been added to the home and are new to concepts of email and online banking. These are likely to be the exact opposite places as found in the Symantec report."

He pointed to disparities between the Symantec report and the FTC's recent consumer complaint report: The FTC report ranked Seattle at No. 78 for fraud complaints and No. 148 for identity theft complaints. "I think when most people think about Cyber Crime Risk, they want to know if they are going to have their money or their identities stolen. The Symantec model just doesn't answer that question very well," Warner blogged.

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