NEW YORK (MainStreet) – Protecting your money in some places is harder than in others, but it’s not just pickpockets you have to worry about these days. A new report pinpoints the 10 worst cities in the U.S. for cybercrime, and some of America's most well-known cities top the list.
Cybercrimes aren’t always taken as seriously by the public as other crimes, but the problem is actually much larger than many realize.
According to Symantec, a Mountain View, Calif.-based information security firm, the total global cost of cybercrime is about $114 billion on a yearly basis in cash alone. And if you factor in money lost and time lost from recovering from a cybercrime, that number rises to $388 billion, which is more than the global black market for drugs, which accounts for $288 billion, the company says.
“There is a serious disconnect in how people view the threat of cybercrime,” says Adam Palmer, lead cybersecurity advisor for Symantec’s Norton brand. “Cybercrime is much more prevalent than people realize. During the past 12 months, three times as many adults surveyed have suffered from online crime versus offline crime, yet less than a third of respondents think they are more likely to become a victim of cybercrime than physical world crime in the next year.”
Now new data out from Symantec/Norton and Sperling’s BestPlaces, which led the study’s analytical effort, points out the “riskiest” cities to be a victim of online theft. The list, released Wednesday, targets municipalities that have the “highest number of cybercrime risk factors.”
According to the study, the 10 worst cities for such crimes include the following (ranked in order from riskiest to least risky):
- Washington, D.C.
- San Francisco
- Sacramento, Calif.
- Raleigh, N.C.
- Austin, Texas
So what makes a city “risky” in Symantec’s eyes? Part of it deals with actually how a consumer lives his or her life (especially how they use gadgets like cellphones and engage in social networking) and part of it deals with the severity of the cybercrime threat in a given city.
“In our examination of the riskiest online cities, we’ve considered a number of factors that can potentially affect online safety," noted Bert Sperling, founder of Sperling's BestPlaces, in a statement. "By looking at data from consumer lifestyle habits as well as cybercrime data provided by Symantec, we're able to provide a holistic view of the various factors that put a person at potential risk."
Consequently, Washington, D.C., which has a high rate of smartphone use, is a natural target for cyber criminals. It also was at the top of the list of attempted “Web attacks.” Seattle and San Francisco were ranked highly for the most Wi-Fi “hot spots” – a favorite of identity thieves.
Of course, nobody is suggesting that you pack your bags and leave Washington, D.C. or Seattle, but if your city has a high volume of smartphone users, tablet computer users and Wi-Fi hot spots, know that cyber thieves have already taken note – and are likely setting up their own “hot spots” for consumers to stumble into.