This article appears in October Family magazine.

Some cities, states and even days of the week are more prone to computer malware infection, but the reasons why are unclear.

Atlanta; Orlando, Florida; and Denver have the highest malware infection rates among major U.S. cities, according to new data compiled by EnigmaSoft, makers of the SpyHunter 5 anti-malware software. St. Louis and Tampa, Florida, rounded out the top five.

By state the most infected were Colorado, New Hampshire and Virginia.

“I think the most surprising part about our findings were that there really seems to be no rhyme or reason to why a particular city or state had a higher than normal infection rate. There were cities in the North, South, East and West near the top of the list. Larger urban areas and smaller ones,” said Ryan Gerding, EnigmaSoft spokesman.

EnigmaSoft also looked at the days of the week with the most infections over the first half of 2018. Wednesdays had the most, and Sundays had the fewest.

“The data showing that infections drop on the weekends doesn’t necessarily mean cybercriminals take time off on the weekends,” Gerding said. “It’s more a sign that people’s desktop computer activity drops on the weekend, which means infections drop as well. The more people are online, the more infections there are. The less they are online, the fewer infections there are.”

Generalizations are difficult to make, even when looking at red states versus blue states, urban versus rural, warm climates and cold climates.

“Overall there doesn’t seem to be one major factor that influences malware infection by geography,” Gerding said.

Back it up

The most important thing a person can do to protect from computer infection is to regularly backup computer data.

“It’s not a question of if you will get an infection, but when,” Gerding said. “By backing up your data, you have ensured that if something bad happens, you can always restore your computer back to the state it was in before the infection happened.”

Update automatically

Next, anti-spyware software and computer operating systems should be set to update automatically.

“You know how you sometimes get those pop-up notifications that say, ‘It’s time to update your operating system, do you want to do it now or later?’ Stop clicking on ‘later.’ Go ahead and set your computer to install updates automatically,” Gerding said.

Think about that link

“Any time you receive a link, via email or social media message or in a pop-up window, just think for a couple seconds before you click on it,” Gerding said.

Do you know who this is coming from? Were you expecting this to be sent? Does this seem like the kind of thing this person would send? Taking just a few seconds to think about the link can save you a lot of headache later.

If you don’t know the sender, don’t open the message.

Browse safely

Basic tips like using strong passwords, making sure you’re on a secure connection and logging out of websites when done working are good internet habits.