US Among 10 Riskiest Places for Internet Use: Report

Dennis Faas's picture

The Republic of Sierra Leone in West Africa isn't exactly a top tourist destination spot. Nonetheless, even if visiting the place might be dangerous, Sierra Leone has been rated the safest place in the world to use the Internet.

The figures come from security firm Antivirus Grisoft (AVG), which analyzed data from 127 million customers in 144 countries. The statistics are based around the number of times the AVG software detected a security threat, compared with the number of times users went online.

The figures reported are the chances that an average user's computer will be attacked on any given day. The global average was 1 in 73.

Turkey, Russia, Armenia Rank Highest Security Risks

The five countries having the highest risk in computer security threats included Turkey (1 in 10 chance of attack), Russia (1 on 15), Armenia (1 in 24), Azerbaijan (1 in 39) and Bangladesh (1 in 41). The United States ranked (1 in 48) came in at ninth riskiest. (Source:

Meanwhile, the most secure were Sierra Leone (1 in 496), Niger (1 in 442), Japan (1 in 403), Togo (1 in 359) and Namibia (1 in 353).

On a continental basis, North America was the most vulnerable (1 in 51) followed by Europe (1 in 72), Asia (1 in 102), and Africa (1 in 108) with South America the safest at (1 in 164). (Source:

Cybercafes Could Be To Blame

Exactly why there is so much disparity between different countries is open to debate.

Computer ownership appears to be lower in most of the "safest" countries, which could mean those that do own machines are more likely to be conscious of security fundamentals.

AVG also believes that some of the riskiest countries have a lot of users who access the Internet through cybercafes (which access unsecured networks), and also suggests some of the countries involved may have higher levels of users trying to access pirated material, which is often injected with viruses and Trojans.

There are some notable exceptions to these patterns that might require other explanations. For example, Japan is rated as extremely safe despite very high levels of computer ownership; AVG suggests this might be a cultural issue with users less likely to engage in risky online activity. (Source:

The United States' high risk ranking may simply mean that Americans make more attractive targets for hackers. Where this involves worms or other self-perpetuating viruses, the effect is likely to be magnified. For example: if an American PC is infected by an email-based virus, chances are the majority of machines they pass it on to will also be American.

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