IT security and data protection company, Sophos, has announced the findings of its latest research into the top twelve countries responsible for relaying spam messages.
Although the US remains the single worst offender, Asian nations now contribute a significantly higher proportion of global spam than for the same period in 2010.
Jumping up the table five places, South Korea is second to the USA, contributing 9.6% of all global spam emails.
Several Asian nations – Indonesia, Pakistan, Taiwan and Vietnam – have joined the Dirty Dozen since Q3 2010, with India dropping to third place behind South Korea and being responsible for 8.8% of the world’s spam.
The top 12 spam relaying countries for July to September 2011 are as follows:
- United States 11.3%
- S Korea 9.6%
- India 8.8%
- Russia 7.9%
- Brazil 5.7%
- Taiwan 3.8%
- Vietnam 3.5%
- Indonesia 3.3%
- Ukraine 3.1%
- Romania 2.8%
- Pakistan 2.0%
- Italy 1.9%
57 South Africa 0.18%
Spam that attempts to make its way into users’ email accounts can vary from annoying adverts to malicious attacks. In the worst cases, a spam message might be designed to infect computers with a Trojan horse or phish banking credentials.
“The latest statistics suggest that, as more people get online in Asia, they are not taking the right measures to protect their computers from infection, which results in the growth of botnets,” says Brett Myroff, CEO of Sophos distributor, NetXactics.
“The vast majority of spam emails are distributed by botnets – networks of infected machines (zombies) which are under the control of spammers.”
Computer users risk becoming part of botnets if they do not run up-to-date anti-virus software and the latest security patches. Typical methods of infection include clicking on links or attachments in spam messages.
The problem is not limited to traditional email; social networking services are also exploited by fraudsters to spread money-making surveys via spammed-out messages.
Botnets are also used by cyber criminals to launch Distributed Denial of Service attacks (DDoS), where thousands of zombie computers are used to connect to a specific website, forcing it offline as it struggles to cope with the increase in traffic.
The percentage of spam coming from Asia has increased, with over half of all spam messages now being relayed via the continent.
The top spam-relaying continents during July to September 2011 include:
- Asia 50.1%
- Europe 21.4%
- North America 14.2%
- South America 10.6%
- Africa 3.0%
During Q3 2010, Asia was responsible for 30% of all spam. The output has now increased to 50.1% from 35.1% at the beginning of 2011.
Europe contributes over ten percent less spam than it did during the same period last year, and several European nations have exited the Dirty Dozen. The UK, at 5th place, contributing 5% of global spam in Q3 2010, currently resides in 16th place overall, responsible for relaying 1.6% of spam.
“If you receive spam messages, check any filter settings you may have and make sure your security software is running and has the latest patches installed,” Myroff says.
“Don’t be tempted to buy anything via spam, as that’s what makes it worthwhile for the spammers. Furthermore, don’t open unsolicited emails as that alone could lead to malware infection.”