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Norton ranks riskiest cities for cybercrime

Seattle tops the list as the riskiest city in the United States for cybercrime among 50 examined for a new report by Symantec.

You may want to start keeping a closer eye on where you click if you live in Seattle.

Among 50 U.S. cities studied for their vulnerability to cybercrime, Seattle came out on top as the riskiest place, followed by Boston, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco, according to the report "Norton's Top 10 Riskiest Online Cities," released Monday.

In an effort to study and rank the nation's riskiest cities for cybercrime, Symantec partnered with research firm Sperling's BestPlaces. The two companies used their own internal research and also checked out key facts and figures on each city, including the number of malware attacks, the number of spam zombies, the number of infected computers, the levels of Internet access, and the number of Wi-Fi hot spots.

Symantec then rated each city using different categories, such as risky online behavior (defined as buying items online and accessing financial information) and the number of cybercrimes per capita.


Seattle took the No. 1 spot by a huge margin, according to Symantec. It was the only city with top 10 scores in each category. Seattle took home the second-highest scores for risky behavior and number of Wi-Fi hot spots, and the third-highest scores for Internet access and online spending.

Almost 68 percent of Seattleites hop onto the Internet regularly, while 29 percent use it at least five times a day--both figures were highest among all cities studied. More people in Seattle (26 percent) go online to check their bank accounts and pay their bills than in any of the other 50 cities, said Symantec. The city also came in second for Wi-Fi access points, with more than 103 hot spots per 100,000 people.

Hit by a high amount of cybercrime, Boston came in second place. The folks in Beantown are frequently victims of spam zombies--among the 50 cities, only Atlanta and Miami face more zombies. Boston was also in the top 25 percent of all cities for levels of Internet access and online spending. Almost 50 percent of those in Boston have broadband access, and 27 percent use it to buy items online.

The U.S. capital reached third on the list also due to its high cybercrime rate. Washington D.C. ranked fourth in cybercrime on the list and fifth in number of Wi-Fi access points with 78 hot spots per 100,000 people. Almost 13 percent of all D.C. residents use the Internet for shopping.

Finally, San Francisco came in No. 4 with the highest marks for risky online behavior and number of Wi-Fi access points--113 hot spots per 100,000 residents, 360 percent higher than the average. The City by the Bay also scored the second highest for levels of Internet access and online shopping. SF was saved from the top spot only because it saw a relatively low number of cybercrimes.

To assign the rankings, Symantec gave each city a certain number of points based on its level of riskiness for each category. Those scores were then weighted and combined to produce an overall grade. For this study, Symantec focused on the 50 largest U.S. cities based on population.