Personal Finance

The top 10 cities likely to be hit by hackers

Hacked at home
Hacked at home

The next time you're in these U.S. cities you might want to take extra steps to protect your computer.

Webroot, an internet security firm, analyzed 2016 data from its threat intelligence platform and other services to draw up a list of the top 10 cities with the most infections from malware.

Malicious software makes your device and data vulnerable to hackers. Actions as simple as clicking on links in phishing attacks or downloading infected apps on your phone can create a security breach.

"We've found that the most infected devices had between six and 24 different types of malware installed," said David Dufour, senior director of engineering at Webroot.

Vulnerable towns

Here are the top 10 most infected cities and the number of infected devices — including PCs, laptops, tablets and smartphones — in each, based on Webroot's data.

New York City, the most populous city in the nation, didn't crack the top 10. It was 13th..

Dufour suggested that Gotham, being home to many financial and government institutions, does a good job of protecting its infrastructure from malware.

So what makes Houston a hotbed for hackers?

"Attackers are known to release a malware strain in a city to target specific industries based in that area," said Dufour.

"It's possible that people become infected from others they know through social media or emails, so you see a spike in a city or state simply due to the proximity to friends and family," he said.

Protect yourself

There are steps you can take to shore up your computer's security.

For instance, avoid using free public Wi-Fi. Bad actors will design networks that look like they provide free internet access. In reality, thieves use these networks to intercept your personal data.

Use a strong password and two-factor authentication where possible. Strong encryption is your first line of defense, considering that code-breaking programs can crack an eight-character password in 15 minutes

Finally, don't let your security software languish. Keep all of your subscriptions up to date so that your systems are equipped to deflect the latest in cyberattacks.

"It's in everyone's best interest to run a security solution on their personal device and to make sure all security software subscriptions are current," Dufour said.