hilary bird | November 17, 2020
The Safest and Most Dangerous States for Telecommuters
With so many Americans working remotely, telecommuting has soared through the roof this year. Instead of hopping on a train, bus, or into a car to get to the office, many Americans are using programs like Zoom to join meetings and collaborate from home. As convenient as working from home may be for telecommuters, it also poses serious security threats for companies.
At the start of lockdown, hackers had a heyday exploiting sensitive company data from unsecured remote employee devices. In fact, data breaches and hackers increased by 400% at the beginning of the pandemic. With data breaches on the rise, companies everywhere are still struggling to secure their employees’ devices from a distance.
We wanted to know which states were best prepared for telecommuting before COVID-19 hit. Which states set up their companies for the most success?
The team at CenturyLinkQuote analyzed the number of data breaches, phishing attacks, malware attacks, internet privacy laws, and more in each state (along with the District of Columbia) to determine the safest and most dangerous places for telecommuters. According to our findings, Vermont is the safest state for telework and Wyoming is the most dangerous.
- Of the twenty internet privacy laws we analyzed, Delaware implemented eleven (or 55%). For that reason, the state ranked in the top ten states safest for telecommuting.
- Illinois may have ranked as the 38th state worst for telecommuting breaches, but of the twenty internet privacy laws we analyzed, Illinois implemented eight of the laws, plus a relatively small amount of yearly data breaches (127). The only reason it didn’t rank higher is because there are 1.81 malware breaches per every 100,000 people there—the highest of any state, including DC.
- Vermont, South Dakota, North Dakota, New Hampshire, and Louisiana each had zero reports of stolen records as a result of a data breach between 2018 and 2019.
- Although the Golden State didn’t rank high on our list, California has fifteen internet privacy laws—the most of any state, including DC. As the state that plays host to Silicon Valley, it makes sense that Californians would invest in cybersafety and security.
- Wyoming had the most data breaches per 100,000 people (0.52). And from 2018–2019, California had seventy-six data breaches—the most of any state.
- Between 2018 and 2019, Florida lost 340,713,342 electronic records in data breaches. Maryland had the most records stolen per 100,000 people: 5,419,782.
- Based on victim count, the state that suffered the most from phishing, vishing, smishing, and pharming overall is Wyoming: $6,005,04. Plus, Wyoming suffered the most total money lost to corporate data breaches: $6,451,000.
To rank the safest states for telecommuting, we analyzed five categories:
- Total number of data breaches from 2018–2019 (35% of overall score): We analyzed all data breaches on a state level that were reported to each state’s respective Attorney General’s Office and/or Department of Health and Human Services. We categorized data breaches as the following:
- Hacks by an outside party
- Malware infection
- Insider breach (done by an employee, contractor, or customer)
- Physical breach categorized by misplaced, discarded, or stolen papers, documents, and portable devices
- Unintended disclosure (i.e., sensitive information posted publicly)
- Total number of records lost or stolen by data breaches from 2018–2019 (30% of overall score): We included only state-level records that have been reported to the Attorney General’s Office and/or Department of Health and Human Services for businesses.
- Privacy laws by state (10% of overall score): We broke down existing internet privacy laws into 20 categories. A state with laws covering all 20 categories would have a score of 100%.
- Victim count and victim loss (25% of overall score): We analyzed total victim count and victim losses for the following crime types in each state, including DC:
- Corporate data breaches
From there, we obtained the total number of victim counts and losses per 100,000 people for each category (except the privacy laws) and normalized the total from 0–1 to to obtain a final rank. The higher the score, the lower the ranking.