Sophos outs 'dirty dozen' spam producing countries

February 26, 2004 Sophos Press Release

Anti-spam specialist maps the spam world

Sophos, a world leader in protecting businesses against spam and viruses, has published a report into the countries from which spam messages originate. Researchers scanned all spam messages received over two days last week and have revealed a 'dirty dozen' of offending countries with the United States topping the chart.

The 'dirty dozen' are as follows:

  1. United States
  2. Canada
  3. China (& Hong Kong)
  4. South Korea
  5. Netherlands
  6. Brazil
  7. Germany
  8. France
  9. United Kingdom
  10. Australia
  11. Mexico
  12. Spain
56.74%
6.80%
6.24%
5.77%
2.13%
2.00%
1.83%
1.50%
1.31%
1.21%
1.19%
1.05%
Others 12.23%

Sophos's findings are based upon an analysis of hundreds of thousands of emails examined by Sophos spam researchers using honeypots and other measuring systems around the world.

"The United States is far and away the worst offender, accounting for nearly 60 percent of the world's spam. Even though European countries are responsible for less spam, they are still generating millions of junk emails a day," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos. "Spam is a global problem, and countries worldwide are starting to take the issue more seriously. However, legislation in the UK won't protect users from spam coming from North America or China."

Sophos research has revealed that although a large amount of spam is being sent from USA computers, much is being sent without the computer owner's knowledge.

"Our intelligence suggests that a large amount of spam originates in Russia, even though it appears at only number 28 in the chart. Hackers appear to be breaking into computers in other countries and sending out spam via 'infected' PCs," continued Cluley. "Some Trojan horses and worms allow spammers to take over third-party computers belonging to innocent parties, and use them for sending spam. More than 30 percent of the world's spam is sent from these compromised computers, underlining the need for a co-ordinated approach to spam and viruses."

Sophos advises home users, particularly those with broadband connections to the internet, to ensure their computers are not unwittingly being used by spammers.