Asia to become Top Spam Continent

IT security and control firm Sophos has published its latest report into the top twelve spam relaying countries, covering the first quarter of 2011. Despite remaining at the top, the USA’s proportion of the global spam output fell significantly from 18.83% to 13.7% of all spam relayed from compromised computers.

The United Kingdom also saw a drop, with its spam pollution falling from 4.54% to 3.2% of total global spam relayed, the UK moving down from fifth to sixth place in the dirty dozen.

The top 12 spam relaying countries for January to March 2011 are as follows:

1. USA 13.7%

2. India 7.1%

3. Russia 6.6%

4. Brazil 6.4%

5. S Korea 3.8%

6. United Kingdom 3.2%

7= Italy 3.1%

7= France 3.1%

9. Spain 2.8%

10. Germany 2.6%

11. Romania 2.5%

12. Poland 2.3%

Other 42.8% (38th Saudi Arabia 0.60%, 57th UAE 0.26% and 61st Egypt 0.23% )

Sophos warns that the continued growth in popularity of mobile platforms and social networking means that the number of spam attack vectors is increasing and computer security still needs to be at the forefront of people’s minds.

“Although the USA and UK contribution to the global spam problem has decreased in percentage terms, it is essential for organisations not to become complacent,” said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos. “Financially-motivated criminals are controlling compromised zombie computers to not just launch spam campaigns, but also to steal identity and bank account information. Users need to be educated about the dangers of clicking on links or attachments in spam mails – and many computers may already be under the control of cybercriminals. Businesses and computer users must take a more proactive approach to spam filtering and IT security in order to avoid adding to this global problem.”

A rise in spam email relayed from individual Asian countries is reflected in the breakdown of spam relayed by continent:

Top spam-relaying continents, January – March 2011

Asia 35.1%

Europe 32.0%

North America 17.3%

South America 12.4%

Africa 2.3%

Other 0.9%

Asia has leapfrogged Europe – the top spamming continent in Q4 2010 – to become the relay point for most of the world’s spam in the first quarter of 2011. Although the USA continues to be the top spam-relaying country, North America remains in third place by continent, a long way behind Asia and Europe. The changes in spam output from quarter to quarter demonstrate the ongoing struggle in defending computers from being compromised by malware and the nuisance of unsolicited emails.

“While spam continues to make money for the spammers, it will continue to be a global problem,” explained Cluley. “Too many computer users are risking a malware infection that sees their computer recruited into a spam botnet. To combat the spammers, it’s not only essential for computer users to run up-to-date security software, they must also resist the urge to purchase products advertised by spam.”

Sophos recommends that companies automatically update their corporate virus protection, and run a consolidated solution at their email and web gateways to defend against spam and viruses. Home users are advised to defend their computers with virus protection, to prevent becoming part of a botnet used for the purposes of distributing spam emails.

Further information about the latest dirty dozen report can be found on Sophos’s Naked Security site at: http://nakedsecurity.sophos.com/2011/05/11/dirty-dozen-spam-relaying-countries/

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