U.S. Leads All Spamming Countries, Thanks to Worms and Other Sneaky Scams

Posted Nov 6, 2006 by David Silverberg
Digital Journal — If you’re frustrated by all the spam swamping your inbox, repeat after me: Blame America.
The U.S. is the top spam-relaying country in the world, according to IT security firm Sophos. Its latest report on the top spamming countries for the third quarter of 2006 found Uncle Sam leading the pack by spreading a whopping 21 per cent of the world’s spam. China came second at 13.4 per cent.
Experts at Sophos blame the American spam surge on the Stratio worm, an intrusive form of malware that converts innocent PCs into members of a spam botnet. “Hackers are using [Stratio] to trick users into running malicious code and opening the backdoor of the network to vulnerabilities,” said Ron O’Brien, senior security analyst at Sophos.
While the U.S. leads the country ranking, Asia continues to be the largest source of relayed spam continent-wise, leading the world at 34 per cent. Europe came second at 32 per cent, with North America following at 24 per cent.
In its third-quarter analysis, Sophos also describes insidious techniques by spammers looking to skirt anti-virus software. Emails containing embedded images are on the rise, since they give spammers a better chance of bypassing threat detection (some spam filters only scan text).
Email harvesting is also targeting the unsuspected, Sophos found. One popular spam threat asks recipients to forward an email for a fake research project, and another scam directs people to a website where they’re encouraged to enter their emails, which are then harvested for various spam rackets.
The latest report from Sophos is clear affirmation that spammers are hear to stay. By highlighting the U.S. influence on world spam output, the report reminds the superpower of its responsibility to quash the cyber-criminals crippling worker productivity.
Spam is a scourge, but current U.S. legislation is too lax to make a considerable impact. The Sophos report might not reach the White House, although it’s a wake-up call that should rouse legislators out of their stupor.