State of the nation: Where in the US is most at threat from hackers?

10 Feb 2015

Californians are far more under attack from hackers than those from Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. Delaware, though, stands out.

Following the recent hacking of Anthem whereby customers both past and present had their personal information stolen, alot of US attention has been on how safe a user’s data truly is.

A new look at hacking in the US has found that – rather understandably – major metropolises are home to far more self-reported hack attacks, but interestingly it’s actually rural states most at risk when viewed per capita.

Digital Guardian scoured Twitter from 2011-2014 to look for trends in hack comments, with some surprising (and some not so) results emerging.

Populous states such as California, Texas and Florida led the way in the number of reported hacks discussed on Twitter, however when looking at it per capita, Delaware seems the state most at risk.

List of states that reported the most and least hacks on Twitter per capita (left) and overall (right)

The researchers used a list of queries that included terms like ‘I was hacked,’ ‘someone hacked,’ ‘account hacked,’ etc.

“We then went through the collected tweets and removed instances where the intent was not to report a hacking incident,” explains Elizabeth Brown of Digital Guardian, “such as someone asking the question ‘how do I hack someone.’

“Though most tweets were relevant thanks to using initial queries aimed at self-reported, perceived hacks.”

total claimed attacks

Total hack attacks discussed on Twitter on a heatmap

The larger populations invariably house the larger number of Twitter users reporting hacks, however it is the per capita slant which is the more eye-catching.

“Unlike the totals, southern and rural states are often the ones showing a disproportionately greater number of tweets [per capita]. While California, Texas and Illinois have a great many reports of hacking, it’s West Virginia, Louisiana and Mississippi which are above average.”

per capital claimed hack attacks

Per capita claimed attacks shows rural states most at risk (dark red = most at risk). All images via Digital Guardian

Cyber attack image, via Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic