Computers in Tampa, Orlando, and St. Louis are more likely than computers in any other city to be infected with malware. That's according to data released today by ESG, makers of the SpyHunter anti-spyware program. The ESG research team compiled their latest data based on malware detection data from SpyHunter in the 100 largest cities in the United States in all of 2016. Tampa, Florida; Orlando, Florida; and St. Louis, Missouri each had malware infection rates more than five times the national average. Denver and Atlanta rounded out the top five.
The same three cities topped the list of highest infection rates in 2015 as well.
"There could be a number of factors including the demographics of the area, how widespread PC usage is (versus Mac or mobile devices), we've even seen weather play a role in infections from time to time," said ESG spokesperson Ryan Gerding. "The important thing is that people in these cities, and everywhere else for that matter, need to always remain vigilant against malware, spyware, and other nefarious online activity."
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Malware gets on computers in a number of different ways. Sometimes it comes bundled with other legitimate software that users download from websites. Many times malware is installed when computer users click on bogus links in spam emails or hacked social media messages. Still, others get tricked into downloading malware by adult websites and illegal video streaming sites.
"Malware makers are always looking for ways to trick you into clicking on a link that will deliver their payload," Gerding says. "Unfortunately, computers in Tampa, Orlando, and St. Louis seem to be more susceptible to these scammers."
Infections can range from the annoying to the downright criminal. Some infections cause more pop-up ads to show up when users are browsing the web. Other malware infections can secretly change your default homepage and search engine. However, others create bogus messages claiming there is a different kind of malware infection on a user's computer, and then ask the user to pay to remove the malware infections. One of the most insidious malware infections is called ransomware. Those infections lock up valuable files on your computer (photos, Word documents, movies) and refuse to unlock them unless you pay a ransom.
ESG offers three key ways for consumers to protect themselves against malware infections.
- Make sure your operating system is up-to-date and change the settings so that updates are automatically installed.
- Use a trusted anti-spyware program. We obviously recommend SpyHunter. But whatever program you use, make sure it is set to regularly and automatically scan your computer and install updates.
- "Think about that link". If you are asked to click on a link in an email message or a social media post, think twice. Ask yourself whether the link seems legitimate and if it's something you were expecting to receive. If you have any doubt, leave it alone.
Top US Cities with the Highest Per Capita Malware Infection Rates in 2016
- Tampa 540% higher than the national average
- Orlando 525% higher than the national average
- St. Louis 520% higher
- Denver 407% higher
- Atlanta 370% higher
- Newark 322% higher
- Madison, Wisconsin 272% higher
- Washington, DC 242% higher
- Cleveland 213% higher
- Cincinnati 194% higher
- Minneapolis 129% higher
- Raleigh 125% higher
- Irvine, CA 121% higher
- Miami 109% higher
- Buffalo 99% higher
- Las Vegas 90% higher
- Pittsburgh 83% higher
- Boise 81.26% higher
- Greensboro 67% higher
- Seattle 61% higher
- Boston 58% higher
- Dallas 47% higher
- Columbus 46% higher
- Milwaukee 38% higher
- Norfolk, VA 36% higher
- Phoenix 32% higher
- Portland 28% higher
- Austin, TX 19% higher
- Honolulu 19% higher
- Baltimore 18% higher
- Birmingham, AL 13% higher
- Baton Rouge 11% higher
- Sacramento 10% higher
- Colorado Springs 7% higher
- San Jose, CA 4% higher