Half of all spam is relayed via Asian computers

Graham Cluley
Graham Cluley
@[email protected]

Asia spamDo you take enough care over your personal computer? Have you kept it up-to-date with the latest anti-virus software and security patches?

Those are the kinds of questions you have to ask yourself if you want to avoid contributing to the “Dirty Dozen”, Sophos’s regular research into the countries which are relaying the most spam messages.

Sophos’s latest report reveals that, although the USA remains the single worst offender, Asian nations contributed a significantly higher proportion of global spam than for the same period in Q3 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 relaying 8.8% of the world’s spam.

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The top twelve spam relaying countries for July-September 2011

1. USA 11.3%
2. S Korea 9.6%
3. India 8.8%
4. Russia 7.9%
5. Brazil 5.7%
6. Taiwan 3.8%
7. Vietnam 3.5%
8. Indonesia 3.3%
9. Ukraine 3.1%
10. Romania 2.8%
11. Pakistan 2.0%
12. Italy 1.9%
Other 36.3%

How can you improve your country’s standing on the chart?

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 cybercriminals 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 for July – September 2011

1. Asia 50.1%
2. Europe 21.4%
3. N America 14.2%
4. S America 10.6%
5. Africa 3.0%
Other 0.7%

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.

Another piece of advice if you want to help fight spam: Don’t ever be tempted to buy anything via spam, as that’s what makes it worthwhile for the spammers.

Graham Cluley is an award-winning keynote speaker who has given presentations around the world about cybersecurity, hackers, and online privacy. A veteran of the computer security industry since the early 1990s, he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows, makes regular media appearances, and is the co-host of the popular "Smashing Security" podcast. Follow him on Twitter, Mastodon, Threads, Bluesky, or drop him an email.

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