USA Continues As Spam King

Sophos has published its quarterly report into spam and the USA remains top of the league for spam-relaying, being responsible for nearly 19% of all spam messages. India follows with a little under 7% and then Brazil, Russia and the UK finishing the top 5 on 4.5%.

The vast majority of spam does not come directly from spammers’ servers, but rather from PCs that have been compromised by trojans or other malware and are now under the control of the criminals. This allows spam to be passed on by PCs without the owners’ knowledge – this is spam-relaying. Consequently, these figures indicate that huge numbers of PCs in the US are infected and under the control of the spammers.

Sophos also notes that the nature of spam is changing. Previously, pharmaceutical products would have been the mainstay of the spammers’ output but increasingly the spam is spreading malware and phishing for account information. As an aside, an estimated 36 million Americans purchased drugs from unlicensed online sellers.

The top spam relay countries for the last quarter were:

1. USA 18.83%
2. India 6.88%
3. Brazil 5.04%
4. Russia 4.64%
5. UK 4.54%
6. France 3.45%
7. Italy 3.17%
8. S Korea 3.01%
9. Germany 2.99%
10. Vietnam 2.79%
11. Romania 2.25%
12. Spain 2.24%
Other 40.17%

“Spam is certainly here to stay, however the motivations and the methods are continuing to change in order to reap the greatest rewards for the spammers,” said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos. “What’s becoming even more prevalent is the mailing of links to poisoned webpages – victims are tricked into clicking a link in an email, and then led to a site that attacks their computer with exploits or attempts to implant fake anti-virus software.”

Sophos also warns that social networks are increasingly attracting the attention of criminals through malicious apps, stolen profiles and junk messages.