Top 12 spam-relaying countries

Sophos has published its latest report into the top twelve spam-relaying countries, covering the second quarter of 2010.

The United States continues to be the number one spam polluter, piping out 15.2% of all global spam messages – an increase from 13.1% in the first quarter of 2010.

The UK – a nation that last year fell out of the spam hall of shame – also saw a significant rise in the proportion of spam it relayed. With a total output of 4.6% of the world’s spam, this puts the UK in fourth place overall compared with ninth earlier this year.

The Top 12 Spam-relaying Countries, April to June 2010:

1. United States 15.2%
2. India 7.7%
3. Brazil 5.5%
4. UK 4.6%
5. South Korea 4.2%
6. France 4.1%
7. Germany 4.0%
8. Italy 3.5%
9. Russia 2.8%
10. Vietnam 2.7%
11. Poland 2.5%
12. Romania 2.3%
Other 40.9%

Spam is becoming increasingly malicious – not just advertising unwanted goods, but spreading links to malicious websites and computer-infecting malware.

Europe has leapfrogged over Asia to become the most prolific continent for spamming. Although the United States continues to be the top spam-relaying country, North America remains in third place by continent, a long way behind Asia and Europe.

Spam emails make up 97% of all emails received by business email servers, both putting a strain on network resources and wasting a huge amount of time to lost productivity. Used largely as a method for selling counterfeit or illicit goods, virtually all spam comes from malware-infected computers (known as bots or zombies) that are controlled by “botherder’ cybercriminals.

Computer users can unwittingly allow their PCs to become part of a botnet in a number of ways, including clicking on malicious links that are frequently contained within the spam messages that the botnets are used to distribute. The best way for users and administrators to reduce the risk of being compromised is to run anti-spam and anti-malware protection, behave sensibly when online, and ensure their systems are up-to-date with security patches.

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