Little Rock, Tampa, and St. Louis hardest-hit by malware among U.S. cities, study finds

Little Rock, Tampa, St. Louis, Orlando and Denver were the five American cities most affected by malware on a per-capita basis in 2015, according to a study released today by Enigma Software.

Little Rock, Tampa, St. Louis, Orlando and Denver were the five American cities most affected by malware on a per-capita basis in 2015, according to a study released today by Enigma Software.

Those five municipalities suffered malware infection rates, the company said, roughly eight or nine times the national average for 2015. Little Rock’s rate was 1,412% above the U.S. average, Tampa’s 842%, while the other three all had rates around 650% of the overall mean.

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Enigma senior vice president of technology Patrick Morganelli said that it’s difficult to tell why some cities were so much more affected by malicious software compared to others.

“[T]here are so many different ways that infections can end up on computers that it's tough to make any generalizations about why certain folks in certain cities seem to have more than others,” he said in a statement.

Nor was there any apparent geographic generalization to be made from Enigma’s numbers, as every region of the U.S. besides New England had a representative in the top 20. Denver was the largest city on the list, Salt Lake City the smallest.

Enigma said that the most common vector for infection is compromised downloads from adult websites, often in the form of ads urging users to “update your media player.” Close behind are infected links contained in email or social media messages. The severity of modern malware infections varies widely, from the minor annoyance of an adware or search hijacker to the very serious consequences of stolen banking credentials or ransomware.

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