U.S. cities most vulnerable to online threats

Who is most at risk of fraudulent credit card charges, stolen identities, email security breaches or lost personal data? An AVG survey of online and mobile consumer behaviors in 35 major U.S. cities uncovers which is most likely to be “digitally duped.”

Across the country, Americans were most likely to be guilty of poor mobile habits – 40 percent don’t use a password on their mobile device and of those that do, another 34 percent have not changed the password in the past year. Even more revealing, 75 percent don’t take active measures to back-up their phone’s data – many relying on their provider to restore their contacts should an accident occur.

Many consumers are also unknowingly putting themselves at risk of falling victim to identity thieves, viruses and malware with bad PC habits and a lack of comprehensive protection. Of the more than 8,000 Americans with access to Internet at home surveyed:

  • 23% don’t back up the data on their PC
  • 38% admit to sharing online passwords with at least one other person
  • 41% never run a manual antivirus scan to ensure computer is virus free
  • 67% don’t use an identity monitoring service.

“Recent news demonstrates that consumers need to be more vigilant than ever about safeguarding the personal information sitting on their PCs and mobile devices,” said JR Smith, CEO of AVG Technologies. “Consumers are getting smarter about online threats but still fail to connect the dots when it comes to understanding that today’s climate requires users protect any device that is internet enabled.”

The top 10 U.S. cities at highest risk are:

1. San Antonio
2. Tampa, Fla.
3. Atlanta
4. Dallas
5. Oklahoma City
6. Charlotte, N.C.
7. Detroit
8. Denver
9. Washington D.C.
10. Sacramento, Calif.

While the threat is high for many U.S. cities, the report isn’t all bad. AVG found 55 percent use two or fewer credit/debit cards each month for online purchases and more than 72 percent of online Americans are checking their online banking accounts at least once per week for errors.

In addition to a high level of caution around personal finances online, 72 percent also claim to have never been fooled by an email phishing scam within the past year.

AVG recommends the following simple steps to minimize the risk of fraudulent charges, identity theft and personal data loss:

  • Use one credit card with a low spending limit for all online purchases. Monitor this account regularly, and flag any inappropriate activity immediately to the bank or lending institution.
  • Change passwords regularly, use variations for each online account, and never, ever share them with others.
  • Back up data! Back up data on computers with external hard drives or a cloud-based solution, and don’t forget about mobile devices, too.
  • Protect data on the go. The more personal information is shared via mobile devices, the more hackers will target these tools.
  • Be wary of phishing scams. Never click on links in emails from banks, or other financial institutions – go directly to their URL and enter your log-in information from their homepage.

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