IT security and control firm Sophos has published its latest
report into the top twelve spam relaying countries, covering the
second quarter of 2010. The USA 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
The top twelve spam relaying countries for April - June
|5. S Korea
Sophos warns that spam is becoming increasingly malicious - not
just advertising unwanted goods, but spreading links to malicious
websites and computer-infecting malware.
"It's sad to see spam relayed via compromised European computers
on the rise - the UK, France, Italy and Poland have all crept up
the rankings since the start of the year," 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. It's an uphill struggle
educating users about the dangers of clicking on links or
attachments in spam mails, and that their 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."
This rise in spam email generated in individual European
countries is reflected in the breakdown of spam relayed by
Top spam-relaying continents, April - June 2010
|3. N America
|4. S America
Europe has leapfrogged over Asia to become the most prolific
continent for spamming. 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.
"Spam will continue to be a global problem for as long as it
makes money for the spammers. It makes commercial sense for the
criminals to continue if even a tiny proportion of recipients
clicks on the links," 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."
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.
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