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Washington D.C. Tops List of Top Cyber Crime Cities

The nation's capitol has topped the list of cities with the highest risk of cybercrime, according to a new report by Symantec.

San Francisco, Seattle, Atlanta and Boston round out the top five in the second cyber risk study by the two organizations.

And what makes one city more risky than another? To judge from the factors weighed in the report, it mostly comes down to using the Internet.

"In our examination of the riskiest online cities, we've considered a number of factors that can potentially affect online safety," Bert Sperling, founder of Sperling's BestPlaces, said in the report. The per-capita risk rankings factored in consumer behaviors including prevalence of PCs and smart phones, use of e-commerce applications, social networking and the availability of  potentially unsecured Wi-Fi hotspots.

Washington, which scored high in almost all of the study's risk factors, had the second-highest reported use of smart phones of cities in the study, for example. It also ranked high in cybercrime factors such as malware infections and Web attacks, which isn't surprising for the nation's political and military capital.

Seattle, which was the riskiest city in the previous 2010 report, (Washington was third), scored at the top in use of e-mail and social networking. And Seattle and San Francisco had high numbers of Wi-Fi hotspots and hours spent on the Internet, according to the report.

Atlanta and Boston, the other members of the top five, reported high instances of online financial transactions and other potentially risky behavior.

Detroit, in last place on the list of risky cities, scored low in Wi-Fi hotspots, potentially risky online consumer behavior and PC expenditures.

"With the explosion of smart phones, 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," Marian Merritt, Norton Internet Safety Advocate, said in the report.

"While there are many positive aspects as a result, this analysis highlights the potentially risky factors we face each time we go online," Marritt said. "By taking a few simple precautions now, people can make sure they stay protected against online threats."

Norton offered three steps people can use to protect themselves:

1. Be careful when using Wi-Fi hotspots.

2. Use complex and unique passwords for each site.

3. Stay educated on threats and preventive steps.

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 the Author

Kevin McCaney is the managing editor of Government Computer News.

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