As the world becomes more dependent upon technology infrastructure, an increasing number of criminals are seeking to take advantage of unsuspecting victims, from individuals to business owners. While technology companies and financial institutions are constantly upgrading their security to combat cyber threats, online criminals continue to make inroads.
In this analysis, AdvisorSmith examined data published by the FBI to uncover the states where cybercrime is most prevalent. We studied the value of cybercrimes reported to the FBI, as well as the number of crime victims in each state. We adjusted these measures by population in order to find the states with the highest levels of cybercrimes.
Overall nationwide, there were losses of $12.42 per capita from cybercrimes. These crimes affected an average of 240 victims per 100K population across the country.
As cybercrime becomes more and more prevalent, particularly with increasing ransomware attacks and social engineering fraud, businesses will not only suffer direct losses from cyberattacks but will also need to outlay capital to shore up defenses and prevent future attacks. From cybersecurity software to IT consulting to cyber insurance, the cost of cybercrime on individuals is not expected to slow down anytime soon.
States with the Most Cybercrime
The District of Columbia, Nevada, Colorado, Florida, and New York had the most cybercrime in our study, taking the top five spots on our list. The top ten included some of the country’s most populous coastal states, including California, New York, Washington, Massachusetts, and Florida.
|Overall Rank||State||Cyber Crime Losses ($)||Cyber Crime Victims|
|1||District of Columbia||$18,942,722||2,132|
States with the Largest Financial Losses from Cybercrime
North Dakota led the way with the highest losses on a financial per capita basis from cybercrime. The largest losses in the state were from identity theft and personal data breach. In the District of Columbia, New York, Missouri, and Colorado, the next highest-ranking locations, email compromise was the highest-value cause of loss.
|Rank||State||Losses ($) per Capita|
|2||District of Columbia||$27.47|
States with the Most Victims of Cybercrime
Nevada, the District of Columbia, Iowa, Alaska, and Florida led the way in terms of the number of victims of cybercrime. In Nevada, identity theft was the most common crime against victims. Cyberextortion was the most common cybercrime in the District of Columbia, while non-payment/non-delivery was the most common in Iowa. Cyberextortion was the most common cybercrime in Alaska, and identity theft was the leading cause in Florida.
|Rank||State||Victims per 100k Population|
|2||District of Columbia||309|
Best Practices to Protect Against Cybercrime
While the threat of cybercrime may seem daunting, there are a number of simple actions you can take to protect your data and devices, as well as mitigate risk. Just as an alarm system for your home may ward off potential criminals, basic cyber protections can help to prevent cyberattacks and data breaches. Here are a few steps you can take:
- Practice good login/password techniques. It’s not surprising that many successful cyberattacks stem from exploiting common or easily-guessed passwords. A little bit of password rigor can go a long way. Make sure you’re not using the same login and password across multiple accounts, create strong passwords, and consider using a password manager, like 1Password, which can automatically create strong passwords for you. For even higher levels of protection, use two-factor authentication, which forces you to confirm your identity with extra information, like a phone number or unique security code.
- Keep your systems up to date. Many of the most famous cyberattacks took advantage of out-of-date software and known vulnerabilities. Make sure that your computers and devices are always updated to the latest software versions. Many of these updates are specifically to plug security holes, so it’s important to ensure you take the time to update all devices.
- Backup your data. If your data is ever held hostage, deleted, or lost, you’ll be thankful you had a backup in place. While you can subscribe to cloud backup services like Backblaze, it’s also wise to keep a physical backup of your data.
- Use security software. Many operating systems already come built-in with security and antivirus software, so you’re more than likely already decently protected from known viruses and attacks (just make sure your software is updated and activated). However, if you are on an older operating system, you may want to consider purchasing an off-the-shelf security product, e.g. Norton 360.
- Invest in cyber insurance. If you run a business, it may be wise to invest in cyber insurance as added protection. Even with robust security measures in place, there’s still the possibility that your business suffers a loss from a cyberattack. Cyber liability insurance, also called cyber insurance or cyber risk insurance, can cover losses your business experiences due to cyberattacks, whether they are first-party losses or losses from third-party legal claims. Commercial crime insurance can also provide protections against cyberattacks executed through social engineering fraud.
To determine the states with the most cybercrimes, AdvisorSmith studied data published by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Internet Crime Complaint Center. This government agency receives complaints from the American public about cybercrimes that have affected crime victims. The FBI compiles that data and classifies cybercrimes into various categories based upon the nature of the crime.
Our study examined the reported monetary losses from cybercrimes in each state. We divided the reported losses by each state’s population to find the dollar amount of cyber losses on a per capita basis. We used this data to rank each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia based upon the monetary losses per capita.
We also calculated the number of cybercrime victims in each state and used each state’s population to normalize the number to the number of cybercrime victims per 100K population for each state. We also ranked the states based upon this metric.
To find the states with the highest cybercrime rates overall, we averaged the two rankings and re-ranked the states based on the blended score. We ranked all 50 states and the District of Columbia based upon this blended score to find the states with the most cybercrimes.
- Federal Bureau of Investigation, Internet Crime Complaint Center, Internet Crime Report 2020
- U.S. Census Bureau, 2020 Decennial Census, Total Population