US spam measures stalled

The US effort to curb the flood of unwanted e-mail or “spam” has lost momentum, a survey showed, leaving the United States at the top of the heap for this scourge of the Internet.

A quarterly survey by the Internet security firm Sophos found the US leading the world as the source of 23.2% of all spam e-mails delivered globally.

Most of the spam delivered around the world is relayed though "zombie" personal computers infected by viruses that automatically spread the unwanted email, often without the knowledge of the PC owners. And Sophos said "vast zombie networks" are often controlled by Russian spammers.

But Sophos said US progress in halting spam since the passage of a 2003 law dubbed CAN-SPAM appears to have stalled.

"It’s disappointing to see the United States lose some of its momentum in the war against spam; US spam has declined every quarter since the inception of CAN-SPAM until now. Despite the increase in arrests and significant monetary penalties, it’s clear that the United States has more work to do," said Ron O’Brien, senior security analyst for Sophos.

"With a concerted focus on regulatory action and judicial punishment, the United States must now intensify its efforts to educate computer users on preventive security measures to curb the infestation of zombie computers."

The rest of the world had problems as well, Sophos said. China, including Hong Kong, accounted for 20% of spam and South Korea 7.5%.

When looking on a regional basis, Asia ? mainly China and Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan ? accounts for more than 40% of the worldwide spam output, Sophos found.

Also, Europe has now surpassed North America and has risen to the second position on the chart with 27.1% of all spam due to increased "zombie" activity.

The other members of the Sophos "dirty dozen" spam sources include France, the source of 5.2%, Spain (4.8%), Poland (3.6%), Brazil (3.1%), Italy (3.0%), Germany (2.5%), Britain (1.8%), Taiwan (1.7%) and Japan (1.6%).

Sophos said a growing area of spam is "pump-and-dump" schemes, in which an e-mail touts a stock in order to send up its price, delivering a quick profit for the seller. This now accounts for 15% of all e-mails, the firm said.


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US spam measures stalled