California a top target for cybercrime, report says

A forecast sorted by state says California will field more cybercrime complaints than the bottom 27 states combined.

A new study has identified California as the state most vulnerable to cyberattacks and the financial losses that result.

A web design and consulting company called Website Builder Expert (WBE) released the study on Jan. 2 as a warning to web developers and website owners. The report, which takes data from the FBI and the Insurance Information Institute, estimates that California will lose more than $329 million from cybercrime and is most at risk due to nearly 56,000 cybercrime complaints expected to come from within the state this year.

As a company that offers advice and guidance to web developers, WBE says in the report that it conducted the research to help its readership of website developers protect their sites from “credit card fraud, identity theft, email hacking, ransomware and account stealing.”

In the report, California is followed by Florida, which is predicted to see roughly 37,000 estimated cybercrime complaints this year, followed by Texas at 33,500, Michigan at 20,000, and New York at more than 19,500.


Looking at financial loss estimates, New York sits in second place at about $140 million, Florida at $112 million, Texas at $96 million, and Virginia at $64 million.

“With over 18,000 more complaints than second-place Florida, the Golden State finds itself at the top of a list that no-one wants to top,” says the study’s author, Tom Watts, in the report. “It’s even more surprising when you realize that Californians will report more cybercrime attacks this year than the bottom 27 states combined, which is crazy.”

Watts says the figures should be seen as an alert to Californians and state officials to fortify defenses. The report noted that California is the fifth-highest state for cybercrime growth, followed by Florida, Michigan, Illinois and Missouri.

“Whether it’s implementing statewide initiatives to educate the population about online security, or whether it’s investing money into a more robust online architecture, something needs to be done,” Watts says.

Cybersecurity concerns have not gone unheeded by IT leaders in California. In 2017, the California Department of Technology launched the state’s first Security Operations Center (SOC) that will monitor cybersecurity 24 hours a day and be gradually expanded to provide enterprise services for departments in all of the state’s agencies. Last summer the City of Los Angeles launched the new LA CyberLab to help the region’s businesses know more about cyberthreats.


In an interview with StateScoop last October, California’s Chief Information Security Officer Peter Liebert said the the goal was to eventually get the SOC to have complete visibility of systems, an advance that would require the state to automate some of its threat detection.

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