Security

These 10 US states have the highest rate of malware infections in the country

A new report from Enigma Software Group compared the malware infection rates in all 50 states over the first six months of 2017. Here are the results.


Does where you live have anything to do with how likely you are to experience a malware attack? A new look at more than 1.5 million malware infections in the US compares rates of infection for the first six months of 2017—and found significant differences across the 50 states.

Computer users in New Hampshire are most at risk—its rate of malware infections was 201% higher than the national average—according to the report, released by Enigma Software Group (ESG), who, it should be noted, make anti-malware programs.

It's not yet clear what kind of insight the geography sheds on malware rates, as the highest and lowest states, in terms of malware infection, include a mix of East coast, West coast, higher and lower-income areas, and densely and sparsely populated regions.

Here are the 10 US states with the highest malware rates, and the % higher than the national average:

  1. New Hampshire (201%)
  2. Colorado (143%)
  3. Virginia (80%)
  4. New Jersey (64%)
  5. Oregon (25%)
  6. New York (24%)
  7. Montana (24%)
  8. Missouri (23%)
  9. Arizona (18%)
  10. Maine (17%)

The report looks at several forms of malware, including adware, rogue, anti-spyware, ransomware—which, although highly damaging, only accounted for 1% of malicious programs in 2016, according to a recent report—and nuisance-ware, which is not as severe as other malware, but can impede workplace productivity by installing unwanted programs and slowing down computer speeds.

Some general trends emerge from the report. The good news? Overall, malware infections have dropped every month since the beginning of the year, with infections in June 2017 31% lower than in January. ESG posits that the drop could be due to more secure updates of Windows being downloaded.

ESG offers the following tips to keep computers protected from all kinds of malware, including backing up data (physically as well as through the cloud) on a regular basis, investing in a malware removal program that can automatically scan files, updating software regularly, and being cautious about opening links, especially via social media channels.

SEE: Information Security Certification Training Bundle (TechRepublic Academy)

"Regardless of where you live, it's always important to stay vigilant for infections all the time," said ESG spokesperson Ryan Gerding in a press release. And as TechRepublic's Alison DeNisco has reported, small and medium businesses are particularly vulnerable to attacks, and lost more than $1 billion in 2016 due to ransomware alone.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. A new report by Enigma Software Group looked at more than 1.5 million malware infections in the US, and compared rates of infection for the first six months of 2017, finding significant differences across the 50 states.
  2. Computer users in New Hampshire are most at risk—its rate of malware infections was 201% higher than the national average.
  3. Overall malware infections have dropped every month since the beginning of the year, with infections in June 2017 31% lower than in January.

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About Hope Reese

Hope Reese is a Staff Writer for TechRepublic. She covers the intersection of technology and society, examining the people and ideas that transform how we live today.

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