Thursday, 01 Nov, 2007 Technology

Most Spam comes from the USA, says SophosLabs


Sophos experts analysed spam messages caught in the companies' spam filters, which are a part of the Sophos global spam monitoring network. The conclusion was that during the third quarter of 2007 the USA retained the position of the main world's spammer and namely 28.4% of global spam comes from the US. The second spammer-country is South Korea, which is the source of 5.2% of global spam.

The 12 countries, where the most spam messages come from are as follows:

  • USA - 28.4%;
  • South Korea - 5.2%;
  • China (including Hong Kong) - 4.9%;
  • Russia - 4.4%;
  • Brazil - 3.7%;
  • France - 3.6%;
  • Germany - 3.4%;
  • Turkey - 3.%;
  • Poland - 2.7%;
  • Great Britain - 2.4%;
  • Romania - 2.3%;
  • Mexico - 1.9%;
  • Other countries - 33.9%

Carole Theriault , security chief at Sophos said that even though every week the police arrest a few spammers, the USA remains on top of the top spammer-countries. The expert added that this level of spamming is not just a matter of a few highly motivated cyber-criminals, because spammers all over the world use thousands of 'zombie' computers located on the USA territory to send spam. In order to solve this problem the authorities should invest more into web security, especially into training users the basics of web-security. Along with these, Theriault added, the authorities should involve the ISPs into a more severe control in order to register such computers as early as possible.

According to current research, while the level of spam sent from the USA is raising, the neighboring Canada has invested more into fighting against spam, thus reducing its global presence in the field to 0.8% in the third quarter of 2007.

Theriault suggested that the USA learned from Canada, because since the Canadian government adopted a plan to fight spam in 2004 and got the ISPs, various commercial companies and end users involved into fighting spam, the spam index sank dramatically. On the other hand though, after sinking the index of spam sent from Canada, the index of spam received in Canada grew, and mainly because of the mail coming across the South border of the country.

During August 2007 the experts from Sophos discovered entire spam campaigns, which were based on malicious spam messages meant to infect their computers via a web-page, to which the user was being redirected from the spam message.

One of such spam campaigns was related to a mailing of 9 million spam messages during 48 hours. Users, who have clicked the hyperlink contained in the body of the message, instead of getting a virtual post-card got their PC infected with the JSEcard Trojan. Other such campaign messages promised users photos of naked celebrities, free video or audio files and other bait things, if only they followed the link, contained in the message.

Another web-security event that happened in the 3rd quarter of 2007 was the appearance of PDF-spam in June 2007. After only two months after the PDF-spam appeared, it gained much popularity, however it was forgotten also very fast.

In the beginning of August SophosLabs identified spam messages of a new format: they contained PDF-files, which persuaded the receivers to acquire stocks of a company called Prime Time Group Inc. The volumes of this mailing campaign was so high that overall spam quantity caught in the SophosLabs' filters during one day had a 30% growth. However after extensive usage the level of PDF-spam sank almost to zero, which shows that the new spammers' tactics was not a success.

The company's experts noted that the PDF-spam was not as successful as traditional spam because of PDF files cannot provide that direct "access" to the receiver of the message.

Due to massive spam campaigns coming from the USA, the spam share of the North American continent grew in comparison with Asia and Europe. According to Sophos, Asia sends less spam due to a larger number of individual nations on the continent, whereas Europe managed to sink their level of sending spam by 3.7 %.

The continents' shares in the spamming business are the following:

  • North America - 32.3%;
  • Asia - 31.1%;
  • Europe - 24.8%;
  • South America - 9.1%;
  • Africa - 2.1%;
  • Other continents - 0.6%
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