U.S. retains dubious honour of spam leader

The United States remained the largest source of spam in the world in the first quarter of 2010 according to a recent Sophos report that lists the top 12 spam-relaying countries in the world.

The company reports says United States continues its reign as the king of spam, relaying more than 13% of global spam, accounting for hundreds of millions of junk messages every day.

Sophos says that spam now accounts for a staggering 97% of all email received by business email servers, putting both a strain on resources and accounting for a huge amount of time to lost productivity. Used largely as a method for selling counterfeit or illicit goods such as fake pharmaceuticals, luxury watches and false diplomas, virtually all spam comes from malware-infected computers (called botnets or zombies) that are controlled by cybercriminals.

Although the United States is the top spam relaying country in the world, the Asian continent dominates for overall spam continues to dominate, with more than a third (33.7%) of the world’s unsolicited junk email relayed by the region. Europe is the second worst spam contributor at 31.2% followed by North America (16.9%), South America (2.6%) and Africa (0.9%).

The top 12 spam-relaying countries in the first quarter of 2010, according to Sophos were:

  • United States – 13.1%
  • India – 7.3%
  • Brazil – 6.8%
  • South Korea – 4.8%
  • Vietnam – 3.4%
  • Germany – 3.2%
  • United Kingdom – 3.1%
  • Russia – 3.1%
  • Italy – 3.1%
  • France – 3.0%
  • Romania – 2.5%
  • Poland – 2.4%

The dirty dozen accounted for 52.7% of all spam in the quarter.

Interestingly China, often blamed for cybercrime by other countries, has disappeared from Sophos “dirty dozen” list, coming in at 15th place with responsibility for relaying just 1.9% of the world’s spam.

“All eyes aren’t so much on which countries are on the list, but the one which isn’t. China has earned itself a bad reputation in many countries’ eyes for being the launch pad of targeted attacks against foreign companies and government networks, but at least in the last 12 months they have demonstrated that the proportion of spam relayed by their computers has steadily declined,” said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos.

Experts at Sophos arrived at their conclusions by examining spam messages it had received in the company’s global network of spam traps during the first three months of the year.

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