Sophos, has published its latest report into the top 12 spam relaying countries, covering the first quarter of 2011. Despite remaining at the top, the US's proportion of the global spam output fell significantly from 18.83% to 13,7% of all spam relayed from compromised computers.
The UK 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: USA -13,7%; India – 7,1%; Russia – 6,6%; Brazil – 6,4%; S Korea – 3,8%; UK – 3,2%; Italy – 3,1%; France – 3,1%; Spain – 2,8%; Germany – 2,6%; Romania – 2,5%; Poland – 2,3%; South Africa – 0,29%; and Other – 42,8%.
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 US and UK contribution to the global spam problem has decreased in percentage terms, it is essential for organisations not to become complacent.
"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 cyber criminals,” says Brett Myroff, CEO of regional Sophos distributor, Sophos South Africa.
“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.
Asia has leapfrogged Europe – the top spamming continent in the third quarter of 2010 – to become the relay point for most of the world's spam in the first quarter of 2011. Although the US 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," says Myroff. "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.