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Risky Online Places To Be

By Minara El-Rahman on May 11, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

FindLaw columnist Eric Sinrod writes regularly in this section on legal developments surrounding technology and the internet.

The Internet crosses geographic boundaries, right? Correct. So, online risks are the same no matter where you are located, right? Wrong! According to a recent study, Internet risks indeed vary depending on where you go online, and ten U.S. cities have been deemed the riskiest. They are, risky online places to be.

The survey, by Norton from Symantec, considered various risk factors in coming up with its results, including cybercrimes such malicious attacks, malware infections, spam zombies, and bot infected computers, as well as additional factors like wireless hotspots, broadband connectivity and online purchases.

Interestingly, the top four risky cities to be online in the U.S., Seattle, Boston, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco, are some of the most advanced technological areas in our country.

Seattle was the most risky city by a wide margin, and it is the only city to score within the top ten of each risk category in the study. Seattle was second overall in terms of risky user behavior and WiFi hotspots. 

Boston came in second for overall online risk principally because of its high levels of cybercrimes (fifth), risky behavior (fourth) and WiFi availability. 

Washington, D.C., ranked third overall for online risk, with high risk scores across most categories, and was fourth in cybercrimes and fifth in WiFi hotspots. D.C. residents also are very active online purchasers.

San Francisco, a high-tech U.S. Mecca, ranks fourth overall for online risk, and came in first for risky behavior and WiFi hotspots.  The relatively low number of cybercrimes is what has kept San Francisco from being the riskiest online U.S. city.

Rounding out the top ten U.S. cities for online risk are Raleigh, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Denver, Austin and Portland (OR). 

Of the 50 cities considered as part of the study, the safest online cities overall, in order, are Detroit, El Paso, Memphis, Fresno, Fort Worth, Long Beach, Tucson, Cleveland, Milwaukee, and San Antonio.

While this survey and its findings are interesting in a macro sense, the risk to a particular Internet user depends very much on the specific practices of that person while online. 

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Eric Sinrod is a partner in the San Francisco office of Duane Morris LLP ( where he focuses on litigation matters of various types, including information technology and intellectual property disputes.  His Web site is and he can be reached at  To receive a weekly email link to Mr. Sinrod's columns, please send an email to him with Subscribe in the Subject line. This column is prepared and published for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice.  The views expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the author's law firm or its individual partners.

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