Sophos has published its latest "Dirty Dozen" report on the top twelve spam-relaying countries during the second quarter of 2006 and Brazil came in 7th with 3.1% of the world’s spam.
Based on analysis of all spam messages received in the company’s global network of spam traps, experts at SophosLabs noted that for the first time in more than two years, the United States has failed to further decrease its spam-relaying problem.
The United States remains at the top of the chart, accounting for 23.2 percent of the world’s spam, while its closest rivals China and South Korea both managed to notably reduce their statistics since the first quarter of 2006. In addition, Canada maintains its 2006 absence from the charts.
The vast majority of this spam is relayed by "zombies," also known as botnet computers, which have been hijacked by Trojan horses, worms and viruses. Once the hackers take control of infected computers, cyber criminals can use them to blast out spam messages.
The top twelve spam-relaying countries from April to June 2006 are as follows:
1. United States – 23.2%
2. China (including Hong Kong) – 20.0%
3. S Korea – 7.5%
4. France – 5.2%
5. Spain – 4.8%
6. Poland – 3.6%
7. Brazil – 3.1%
8. Italy – 3.0% new entry
9. Germany – 2.5%
10. United Kingdom – 1.8%
11. Taiwan – 1.7%
12. Japan – 1.6%
"It’s disappointing to see the United States lose some of its momentum in the war against spam; U.S. spam has declined every quarter since the inception of CAN-SPAM until now. Despite the increase in arrests and significant monetary penalties, it’s clear that the United States has more work to do," said Ron O’Brien, senior security analyst for Lynnfield, Massachusetts-based Sophos.
"With a concerted focus on regulatory action and judicial punishment, the United States must now intensify its efforts to educate computer users on preventive security measures to curb the infestation of zombie computers."
The United States accounts for the highest spam output as a country, but together China, Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan account for almost half of the worldwide spam output, making Asia the top offending continent.
In addition when ranked by continent, Europe has now surpassed North America and has risen to the second position on the chart with a marked rise from the first quarter due to increased zombie activity.
"As Asia reigns supreme, zombie PCs plague the European market, and North America still ranks in the top three, worldwide regulatory and judicial efforts are needed to prevent spam in the borderless Internet society," continued O’Brien.
The breakdown of spam relaying by continent from April to June 2006 is as follows:
1. Asia 40.2%
2. Europe 27.1%
3. North America 25.7%
4. South America 5.5%
5. Australia 0.7%
5. Africa 0.7%
Additional key findings from SophosLabs include:
* Control of vast zombie networks by Russian spammers; Russian spamming price lists discovered.
* Increase in embedded images from 18.2 percent in January 2006 to 35.9 percent in June 2006; these messages are able to avoid detection from text-based spam filters
* Rise in pump-and-dump scams to 15 percent of all emails; often using embedded images, these scams are designed to boost corporate stock prices to make a quick profit
Sophos recommends that computer users ensure they keep their security software up-to-date, as well as using a properly configured firewall and installing the latest operating system security patches. Businesses must also look to implement a best practice policy regarding email account usage.