India has overtaken the United States in one year to become the top global contributor of spam, and though basic marketing spam has decreased, the amount of phishing and messages that spread malware is increasing, a new report by security firm Sophos suggests.
Sophos’ latest ‘Dirty Dozen’ of spam-relaying countries covers the first quarter of 2012 and shows that India is responsible for relaying one in 10 junk emails.
The top 12 spam-relaying countries for January to March 2012 are as follows:
1. India – 9.3pc
2. USA – 8.3pc
3. South Korea – 5.7pc
4. Indonesia tied with Russia – 5.0pc
5. Italy – 4.9pc
6. Brazil – 4.3pc
7. Poland – 3.9pc
8. Pakistan – 3.3pc
9. Vietnam – 3.2pc
10. Taiwan – 2.9pc
11. Peru – 2.5pc
12. Other – 41.7pc
The reason for this may be down to the rapidly increasing number of new internet users in India. Computers in the country may also not be properly protected and ISPs may not be tackling spam seriously.
Overall, throughput of global email spam messages has decreased since Q1 2011, partly because of better work by ISPs, but also reflecting a change in tactics by cyber criminals, whereby they are turning to social networks instead.
"While traditional marketing spam may appear to be no more than an annoyance, offering pills that have questionable claims or ‘get rich quick’ schemes, they can often to lead to more serious threats to your personal information,” said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos.
“The latest stats show that, as more first-time internet users get online in growing economies, they are not taking measures to block the malware infections that turn their PCs into spam-spewing zombies.”
Zombies are infected computers that form networks called botnets that cyber criminals use to send spam, steal information and launch denial of service attacks.
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 computer users are also advised to protect their computers with anti-virus software.