Today the cyber security experts at Norton announced the top 10 riskiest U.S. cities for cybercrime. The next time you pay a bill or update your status on Facebook you might want to look over your shoulder [virtually]. It seems Seattle, Boston, San Francisco and Washington D.C. are the riskiest all around cybercrime cities, thanks in part to the large number of Wi-Fi hotspots.
Let's have a look at the top 10:
3) Washington, D.C.
4) San Francisco
5) Raleigh, N.C.
9) Austin, TX
10) Portland, OR
The above rankings were determined by combining data from Symantec Security Response as well as third-party data about online shopping and Wi-Fi hotspots. Now more than ever people are relying on the Internet for their daily communications, online shopping and paying their bills. These activities can expose a user to heightened risk levels, especially if conducted on public networks such as wireless hotspots at your local coffee shop or bookstore. Apparently living in a techno-savvy city such as Seattle or San Francisco does not make you any less susceptible to cybercrime, to the contrary in fact. In a press release put out by Norton, Bert Sperling, founder of Sterling's Best Places said "Despite people's familiarity with technology and the Internet, this study shows that everyone is exposed to a certain level of risk when they are online..."
How can you protect yourself?
In the interest of protecting the noble citizens of the world wide web [and selling some product] Norton offers up the following Top 3 Safety Tips:
o Use legitimate security software such as Norton Internet Security and Norton 360
o Always keep your computer's operating system and software up to date and patched
o Get educated and stay aware: check out www.everyclickmatters.com and for those of you with children in your family download the Norton Family Online Safety Guide
Here are a few tips and links I would like to add to that:
o Avoid hopping on to any available Wi-Fi hotspot out there. Most public hotspots are open and they don't require a password. That makes them insecure as they are available to pretty much anyone. If you do use a public hotspot be sure to have security enabled on your computer. In many cases the firewall software that is built-in to Windows [or your OS] is not enough to protect you.
o If you have children on your network be sure to protect them from the content that is out there and also protect your files and network from their activities online. Consider using parental control software such as Net Nanny
o Never shop or enter any personal information in a browser window that is not secure. Any legitimately secure web page that collects and transmits your credit card number or any other personal information should use SSL to encrypt the data. A secure web page is generally characterized by a "lock" icon. For more information on web page security visit the SSL knowledge Base.
o Use common sense: if you are in a public place be sure that no one is watching your screen. Look around and see if there is another person or even a security camera that might record your actions.
Worth a mention
Detroit was ranked the least risky online city. Yep, the city that brought us Robocop is the most conservative when it comes to cybercrime, Internet access, spending on computer equipment, and wireless Internet access. El Paso, Texas and Memphis, Tennessee ranked second and third [respectively] least risky cybercrime cities.
Sensing a disturbance in the force?
If you sense cybercrime or are a victim of Internet crime try filing a complaint with IC3 (Internet Crime Complaint Center). IC3 was established by the U.S government as a partnership between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C) to receive Internet related criminal complaints.
Albert Einstein once said "Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new." Well the Internet is no longer a novelty; we've been using it for years. It is time we learn how to conduct ourselves safely. Albert Einstein also said "Before God we are all equally wise - and equally foolish." I guess the same is true before cybercriminals. Be wise.