Study reveals world’s biggest spammers

Xavier Verhoeven
29 April, 2010
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Ever wondered where all that pesky spam in your inbox comes from? According to a report from IT security firm Sophos, the primary offenders are the United States (13 percent), India (seven percent) and Brazil (seven percent), accounting for hundreds of millions of junk messages each day. The Sophos report doesn’t look directly at the origin of the mail, but rather focuses on spam relaying – a measure of how many systems are pushing the annoying and often malicious messages around the web.

Interestingly, while China is often blamed for cybercrimes, it doesn’t even make the top ten, contributing only two percent of the world’s spam.

“All eyes aren’t so much on which countries are on the list, but the one which isn’t. China has earnt itself a bad reputation in many country’s eyes for being the launch pad of targeted attacks against foreign companies and government networks, but at least in the last 12 months they can demonstrate that the proportion of spam relayed by their computers has steadily reduced,” said Paul Ducklin, head of technology at Sophos Asia Pacific.

Happily, Australia comes in even lower with under one percent, which could mean our computers are all clean, but is more likely a result of our relatively small population.

Spam accounts for a massive 97 percent of all email received by business email servers, meaning it is a huge burden for business, costing a fortune and also reducing productivity. While the messages may contain virtually anything, they are usually attempting to sell counterfeit goods or pharmaceuticals. The emails generally come from malware-infected computers that act as ‘bots’ relaying the data.

“Countries such as the USA would do well to remember that cleaning-up infected PCs in their own back yard will be an important step in fighting cybercrime. Furthermore, we all shouldn’t forget that if no-one bought products sold via spam there would be a lot less incentive to send junk email,” explained Ducklin.

Top 10 spamming countries
1. United States 13.1%
2. India 7.3%
3. Brazil 6.8%
4. South Korea 4.8%
5. Vietnam 3.4%
6. Germany 3.2%
7. United Kingdom     3.1%
8. Russia 3.1%
9. Italy 3.1%
10. France 3.0%

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