Have you ever stopped and wondered, either as a consumer or retailer, just how safe your city or town is in the realm of cyber security? A city’s cyber security climate is increasingly becoming a bigger factor for both individuals moving or relocating, and for businesses looking to set up shop in particular areas. It also has some obvious ramifications for online shopping activities in those particular cities. Fortunately, there’s a new study out that can help guide you as you face these kinds of questions.
Symantec, manufacturer of Norton computer security software products, teamed up with Sperling’s BestPlaces to rank 50 U.S. cities and towns on their cyber security. The result? Seattle is the most vulnerable to cyber attacks and cyber crime among U.S. cities, followed by Boston, Washington, DC, San Francisco and Raleigh.
The rankings draw on Symantec’s own data on the volume of malicious attacks, infected machines and zombie computers per capita, combined with Sperling’s information on computer ownership/Internet usage and what it deems as potentially risky online activities (such as banking, online shopping, etc). The number of free WiFi hotspots per capita also factored into the rankings.
Scores were calculated by compiling the point totals in each criteria field in relation to the other cities involved in the research—the higher the city’s score, the more vulnerable it is to cyber crime.
With a total score of 188.2, Seattle was far and away tops on the list after scoring in the top ten in every criteria and earning the second spot in both WiFi availability and risky behavior. Detroit was the safest city in the research, scoring a 7.5, with El Paso and Memphis rounding out the top three for safety. Symantec noted that WiFi accessibility and usage was not only one of the biggest factors considered, but also one of the most vulnerable areas of security because it’s technology most individuals still don’t understand.
As with any type of demographic study, these rankings shouldn’t be assumed to illustrate the experiences of every person who lives in these cities. It does, however, give businesses something to think about if they’re considering a move to one of the more vulnerable places listed. The unfortunate fact is that some areas of the country are simply more prone to cyber crime than others, and rankings like these could certainly dissuade companies from relocating to riskier cities or make it hard for newer businesses to get off the ground in a place like Seattle.
Companies already operating in such high-risk areas should consider regular internal security reviews of their websites and overall online operations and networks. Allowing employee WiFi use is also a risky proposition that should be re-considered. It’s also important to put restrictions on employee web usage whenever possible, since certain sites they may visit on company time could be more hazardous than others.
As for consumers and individuals, these rankings should convey one very important message: the more you’re online, the more cautious you need to be. Online banking and shopping are becoming important components of everyday life but they must be approached with discretion and common sense, particularly if you’re using wireless internet connections. For more security tips, we’re going to point you back to an older blog post of ours that covers 10 tips for safe online shopping. Learn them, live them, love them!
What do you think of these rankings? And do the results impact your feelings about how you browse and use the web? Leave us thoughts and comments below!