India overtakes US to become biggest spammer

Email spam on computer

India has claimed the premiere position as the top spam-relaying country, stealing the US’s top spot, for the three months to March this year.

Sophos has published its latest Dirty Dozen list of the top 12 junk message-contributing countries, which attributes the south-Asian nation with relaying one in ten or 9.2 percent of all spam emails. Sophos cited the rapidly increasing number of internet users in India, coupled with a lack of quality protection against hackers, as the reason behind the country’s rise to the top spot.

The United States has been relegated from first to second place, responsible for 8.3 percent of spam emails, followed by South Korea and Indonesia and Russia which tied at fourth place.

The United Kingdom, which was ranked sixth 12 months ago, has now dropped out of the list altogether with spam numbers decreasing by an impressive 47 percent.

Effective work by ISPs has helped to reduce overall throughput of global email spam yet spammers have quickly and easily adapted their strategy, shifting their attention to social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest in order to spread their campaigns.

Sophos warns that while basic marketing spam has decreased, the amount of messages that spread malware or that represent more targeted attempts to phish usernames, passwords and personal information is increasing.

Graham Cluley, Sophos senior technology consultant, noted the introduction of ‘zombie-computers’, infected computers used by cybercriminals to form networks called ‘botnets’ which have the collective power to force a website offline.

“While traditional marketing spam may appear to be no more than an annoyance it can often to lead to more serious threats to your personal information,” he said.

“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.”

To protect against spam, viruses and hacking, Sophos recommends for companies to automatically update their corporate virus protection and run a consolidated solution at their email and web gateways. Effective virus protection software can also reduce home-user’s risk of becoming part of a botnet.

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