Burlington, Ont. has been named "Canada's riskiest online city" by internet security software firm Symantec for the second year in a row. The top four in the annual rankings released Wednesday were rounded out by three B.C. communities — Port Coquitlam, Vancouver and Langley.

Burlington had the highest rate per capita among 50 Canadian cities of three out of four types of cybercrime indicators measured in the survey — web attacks originating in the city, attempted malware infections on Symantec customers in the city, and spamming IP addresses originating in the city.

Burlington also had a high rate of bots – remotely controlled "zombie" computers infected by malware that carry out aggressive attacks on other computers, often unbeknownst to their owners. Malware-infected computers can also be used to deliver spam.

10 riskiest cities

  1. Burlington, Ont.
  2. Port Coquitlam, B.C.
  3. Vancouver.
  4. Langley, B.C.
  5. Calgary.
  6. Fredericton.
  7. Toronto.
  8. New Westminster, B.C.
  9. Edmonton.
  10. Victoria.
Source: Norton's 'riskiest' online cities of 2012

Symantec gathered the cybercrime data by monitoring the customers that use its own internet security software, Norton. It combined that with data from research firm Sperling's BestPlaces on Wi-Fi hotspots, computer and internet expenditures and social networking use in each city.

The goal was to create a "subjective" ranking of cities that have the highest number of "potential risk factors for cybercrime," said a news release from Symantec.

"Wi-Fi hotspots, smartphones, tablets and social networking are all great tools," the release said. "Norton wants people to realize that the more connected we are, the more threat vectors exist for potential cybercrime."

10 least risky cities

  1. Lévis, Que.
  2. Gatineau, Que.
  3. Longueuil, Que.
  4. Laval, Que.
  5. Sherbrooke, Que.
  6. Trois-Rivières, Que.
  7. Quebec City.
  8. Brampton, Ont.
  9. Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.
  10. St. Catharines, Ont.
Source: Norton's 'riskiest' online cities of 2012

The overall rankings considered cities to be riskier if they had:

  • Higher rates of cybercrime in the form of web attacks, malware attempts, spamming IP addresses and bot attacks.
  • A larger number of Wi-Fi hotspots per 100,000 residents.
  • Higher annual household expenditures on computers, internet and smartphones.
  • Higher rates of online shopping, email and banking.
  • Higher rates of social networking use.

Because of that, the least risky cities — the Quebec communities of Laval, Longueuil, Gatineau and Lévis — were those where residents were less likely to use the internet and tended to be "less technologically sophisticated," Norton said.

Norton recommends minimizing the risk by avoiding Wi-Fi hotspots and using secured networks instead for online shopping or banking.

Source: Canada's 'riskiest online cities' ranked - British Columbia - CBC News