Report: Computers in State Capitals Are Three Times as Likely to Have Malware Infections

us state capitals more likely malware infectionsPersonal computers in America's state capitals have 224% more infections than the rest of their home states. That's according to data released today by ESG, makers of the anti-malware program SpyHunter. ESG looked at the malware infection rates detected on SpyHunter in each state capital and compared it to the average infection rate for the entire state. In 43 of the 50 states, the infection rate was higher in the state capital, in some cases, dramatically so. The capitals in Georgia, New York, Utah, South Carolina, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania each had infection rates that were more than 500% higher than the rest of their respective states. On average, the infection rate in capitals was 224% higher. Here's a list of the ten states with the biggest difference between capital infection rates and the rest of the state.

State Capital Difference in Infection Rate

  • Atlanta, Georgia 992% higher in capital
  • Albany, New York 970% higher in capital
  • Salt Lake City, Utah 772% higher in capital
  • Columbia, South Carolina 741% higher in capital
  • Charleston, West Virginia 544% higher in capital
  • Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 505% higher in capital

On average, the infection rate in capitals was 224% higher. And it wasn't just state capitals. Washington, DC has an infection rate that was 504% higher than the national average.

"It didn't matter if it was a big state, small state, large capital, or small capital, infections were almost always higher," said ESG spokesperson Ryan Gerding. "Now the big question is, why?"

Because ESG's infection data doesn't identify exactly who is being infected or how they got the infections, it's tough to know for certain exactly why infections rates are so much higher. But here are a few guesses:

  • It could be that because state capitals are generally the centers of government activity, there may be a higher concentration of computers and computer activity.
  • Another thought is that capitals may simply be more desirable targets for the crooks who make some kinds of malware. There may be more valuable computer data to access and compromise in capitals.
  • Lastly, could it be possible that the lawmakers and lobbyists and government employees in state capitals just don't practice safe surfing as much as the rest of us?

"We know that a lot of malware infections come from risky online behavior," Gerding said. "This includes things like visiting adult websites, downloading unreliable software, and clicking on links in spam emails and bogus social media messages. Are we saying that politicians and other government employees are more likely to be looking at adult content than the rest of the state? No. But there are certain risky activities that make getting infections much more likely."

It's tough to tell for certain why the infection rate was so much higher in capitals. But there are steps that all computer users—in capitals or elsewhere—should be taking to maximize their computers' safety:

  • Regularly back up your data. Ideally, you should have a physical backup (external drive connected to your computer) and a cloud-based backup. Either way, set your computer to back up your files automatically and frequently.
  • Set your computer to automatically install any operating system updates that may become available.
  • Install a trusted anti-spyware/malware software. Adjust the settings of the security software so that updates are installed automatically.
  • Be wary of links that are sent to you in emails or social media messages. "Think about that link"

Full List of State Capital Difference in Infection Rate

Below is a full listing of each state capital and how their infection rate compared to the rest of the state.

State Capital Capital Increase
Georgia Atlanta 992.41%
New York Albany 970.65%
Utah Salt Lake City 772.83%
South Carolina Columbia 741.29%
West Virginia Charleston 544.98%
Pennsylvania Harrisburg 505.83%
Arkansas Little Rock 461.57%
Wisconsin Madison 451.02%
North Carolina Raleigh 439.06%
Mississippi Jackson 382.45%
Colorado Denver 372.85%
Montana Helena 325.48%
Idaho Boise City 295.94%
Maryland Annapolis 277.41%
Wyoming Cheyenne 276.70%
South Dakota Pierre 264.44%
Hawaii Honolulu 249.75%
Vermont Montpelier 247.61%
Indiana Indianapolis 243.28%
Iowa Des Moines 237.57%
California Sacramento 211.69%
Louisiana Baton Rouge 205.93%
Massachusetts Boston 205.11%
Rhode Island Providence 186.28%
Michigan Lansing 180.32%
Ohio Columbus 152.78%
Washington Olympia 149.65%
Kentucky Frankfort 139.22%
Arizona Phoenix 135.48%
North Dakota Bismarck 130.14%
Illinois Springfield 129.12%
Virginia Richmond 101.98%
Tennessee Nashville 95.12%
Texas Austin 87.76%
Connecticut Hartford 84.85%
New Mexico Santa Fe 80.56%
Nebraska Lincoln 72.53%
Oklahoma Oklahoma City 40.23%
Alabama Montgomery 28.47%
Delaware Dover 27.79%
Minnesota St. Paul 21.44%
Kansas Topeka 19.97%
Florida Tallahassee 19.16%
Maine Augusta -0.16%
New Jersey Trenton -6.29%
Oregon Salem -32.97%
New Hampshire Concord -55.94%
Nevada Carson City -58.78%
Alaska Juneau -77.35%
Missouri Jefferson City -80.10%

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