More spam is now relayed from Asia than any other continent, according to
the latest research from security company Sophos.
Asia accounts for 42.8 percent of the spam received by Sophos' global spam
monitoring network, with North America in second place with 25.6 percent, the
company said on Thursday.
Two years ago, North America was responsible for more than half of the
world's spam, Sophos said. Now North and South America combined don't come close
to Asia's percentage, said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at the
Cluley added that Europe is also becoming a major relayer of spam and now
transmits almost as much as North America, with 25 percent. "I won't be
surprised if Europe overtakes North America next month," he said.
On a country-by-country basis, the U.S. still relays most spam, with 23.1
percent. China and Hong Kong come second with 21.9 percent of global spam, while
South Korea is third at 9.8 percent.
many computers running older versions of Microsoft Windows, which contributes to
the levels of spam, as machines running older versions of the operating system
are more easily exploited by spammers.
South Korea is a particularly tempting target for spammers, as a result of
its advanced technology infrastructure and the economic rewards of setting up
networks of zombie computers, or botnets,
"South Korea has a fantastic Internet structure with immensely fast
connections, and so it is a goldmine for spammers wanting to create botnets,"
A ZDNet UK research report released this week found that despite
advances made in security technology, there has been little or no reduction in
the time IT professionals are spending trying to protect their business systems
from issues such as spam and viruses.
"The top 10 viruses in the past 10 months are really old, which suggests the
human race isn't winning the war against viruses and spam," Cluley said. "Some
people just simply aren't bothered, and they are the ones bombarding the rest of
However, Cluley said that Microsoft has made some big differences with XP
Service Pack 2. The security-themed update to Windows has made it harder for
hackers to break into Windows systems, because a rudimentary firewall and
automatic updates are enabled by default, he said.
Antivirus company McAfee agreed that security vendors and cybercriminals were
locked into a stalemate.
"It's almost like a game of chess," said Greg Day, security analyst at
McAfee. "Spammers try to put our customers in check. We put pieces on the board
to block them, then they make their next move," he added.
McAfee and Sophos agreed that spam was unlikely to disappear, and called for
Internet service providers, businesses and home users to run antispam
software. ISPs have traditionally been reluctant to block any kind of
content, although most of the major players now have some form of antivirus
protection for their customers.
"It's an issue we've been working on," Day said. "Every person has to protect
their own space. But there's a lot of common sense in moving a security level up
into the cloud," or in the space surrounding users and ISPs, Day added.
McAfee and Sophos also applauded the recent arrests of spammers, but said
that more needed to be done in terms of international law enforcement
"When the prosecutions hit the streets, there was a visible downtrend in
spam. But these aren't global laws. It's a step in the right direction, but
there's definitely scope to work on this," Day said.
Tom Espiner of ZDNet UK reported from London.