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City risk factors

Manchester is ranked number one in Europe – for cybercrime risk. The IT security firm Norton teamed up with research firm Sperling’s BestPlaces. Manchester was named as first partly because it has the highest incidences of Wi-Fi hotspots and malware attempts.

The 2012 Top 10 “Riskiest” Online Cities in Europe are:

   1. Manchester, United Kingdom
   2. Amsterdam, Netherlands
   3. Stockholm, Sweden
   4. Paris, France
   5. London, United Kingdom
   6. Dublin, Ireland
   7. Milan, Italy
   8. Rome, Italy
   9. Barcelona, Spain
  10. Berlin, Germany

Cities with the greatest risk factors do not necessarily correlate with the highest infection rates, reflecting the fact that many consumers are taking precautions to keep themselves safe.

Bert Sperling, founder of Sperling’s BestPlaces and lead researcher for the analysis, said: “In our examination of the riskiest online cities, we’ve considered a number of factors that can potentially affect online safety. By looking at data from consumer lifestyle habits as well as cybercrime data provided by Symantec, maker of Norton products, we’re able to provide a holistic view of the various factors that put a person at potential risk.”

Sperling’s BestPlaces determined the per-capita rankings by examining several consumer behaviours – from the prevalence of PCs and smart phones, to social networking and accessing potentially unsecured Wi-Fi hotspots, among others.

Manchester in the UK earned the number one spot in European region, with the highest incidences of Wi-Fi hotspots and malware attempts. It also had high percentages among its population for prevalence of computers and Internet access, as well as social networking use.  London’s levels among the cybercrime data hovered near the 25th percentile, and Although London’s cybercrime data was low, its high levels of Internet use, social networking and coputer prevalence raised its overall risk factors for an average ranking at number five. Dublin had a comparatively low level of smartphone use, but average numbers among the cybercrime data, low levels of computer use by its residents, and an average number of Wi-Fi hotspots.

“With the explosion of smartphones, tablets and laptops in recent years and the rise of apps and social networking sites, our online and offline lives are blending together in ways that we’ve never before experienced,” said Marian Merritt, Norton Internet Safety Advocate. “While there are many positive aspects as a result, this analysis highlights the potentially risky factors we face each time we go online. By taking a few simple precautions now, people can make sure they stay protected against online threats.”

Of the top ten “riskiest” cities in Europe, Berlin had the lowest numbers among the cybercrime data, with all four categories in the 10th percentile and the lowest scores for bots by city and malware attempts. Berlin also had the lowest rate of smartphone use, though PC ownership and social networking was slightly above average.

Three safety tips from Norton

1. Proceed with caution when using Wi-Fi hotspots; Wi-Fi hotspots are a great resource, but make sure you’re using a secured network if conducting online purchases or banking from a laptop, tablet or smartphone.

2. Use complex and unique passwords for each site; use a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, symbols and numbers and make your passwords as random as possible. It’s also good practice to change your passwords regularly, but managing all these passwords can be tricky. Norton offers a free, cloud-enabled service that allows consumers to easily and securely store and synchronise logins, passwords, credit cards, and other Web form information across browsers and devices. ID Safe beta is available for free download from

3. Stay educated; for more information and tips on staying safe no matter where you live, visit Norton’s Facebook page at Visit for a list of consumer security products. Norton One will be commercially available in March 2012.


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