Seattle Tops Symantec List of Riskiest Online Cities

In a joint study with Sperling's BestPlaces, Symantec has come up with a list of the 50 riskiest places in America to be online. At the top of the list are some of the country's major tech hubs, including Seattle, San Francisco and Boston.

Recent statistics from the Internet Crime Complaint Center put the amount of losses Americans suffered in 2009 due to online fraud at close to $560 million. But what cities are the most dangerous pound-for-pound?

According to an analysis by Symantec and research firm Sperling's BestPlaces, Seattle ranks as the riskiest online city in America. The remaining top five in descending order are Boston; Washington, D.C.; San Francisco and Raleigh, N.C.

The rankings were determined through a combination of data from Symantec Security Response as well as third-party data about online behavior, such as accessing WiFi hotspots and online banking. Each city was scored across a number of categories. For example: the number of malicious attacks per capita, prevalence of Internet use and the number of bot-infected machines per capita.

Seattle ranked near the top in numerous categories, and was in fact the only city in the study to be in the top 10 in each. Researchers placed Boston, San Francisco and D.C. high in part due to the large number of WiFi hotspots, though Boston and D.C. both scored high in the area of cyber-crimes per capita as well. Raleigh finished high primarily due to the high percentage of people with Internet access and their participating in online activities.

"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," said Bert Sperling, founder and researcher of Sperling's Best Places, in a statement. "No matter where you live -- be it Seattle or Detroit -- it's important to be vigilant in everyday online behavior in order to protect yourself against cyber-crime of all types."

The top 10 list is rounded out by: Atlanta; Minneapolis; Denver; Austin, Texas; and Portland, Ore. According to the research, Atlanta residents experience the most cyber-attacks and potential infections, while Minneapolis and Portland are near the top for risky online behavior. Denver and Austin scored high across the board, according to the study.

Of the 50 U.S. cities examined, Detroit came in as the least risky online city, with residents less likely to participate in risky online behavior. The city also ranked low in cyber-crime, wireless Internet access and Internet access generally compared to other cities. El Paso, Texas, and Memphis were the second and third safest cities, respectively.