China drops out of 'Dirty Dozen' chart

Asian giant disappears from Top 12 spam-relaying countries, though Asia remains highest spam distributing continent, according to new report from Sophos.
Written by Liau Yun Qing, Contributor

Spam originating from hacked computers in China has "steadily reduced" and the country is now out of the Top 12 chart for spam relaying. However, the Asian continent continues to top the list for spam distribution, observes a new report.

Top 12 spam relaying countries
(January - March, 2010)
Country percent
United States 13.1
India 7.3
Brazil 6.8
South Korea 4.8
Vietnam 3.4
Germany 3.2
United Kingdom 3.1
Russia 3.1
Italy 3.1
France 3.0
Romania 2.5
Poland 2.4
Source: Sophos

In a Thursday report covering the first quarter of 2010, security vendor Sophos announced that China had dropped out of the "Dirty Dozen" list to become No. 15 in spam relaying, contributing to just 1.9 percent of the world's spam.

Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at the security firm, said in the report that China had earned a bad reputation as the "launch pad of targeted attacks against foreign companies and government networks".

However, "at least in the last 12 months", China has shown that the proportion of spam relayed by computers in the country has steadily reduced, he noted..

Despite China's drop from the top 12, the Asian continent continued to be the top continent in spam-relaying, contributing to more than a third, or 33.7 percent, of total unsolicited e-mail, said the report.

India and South Korea have joined a new "dirty gang of four" which includes Brazil and "ringleader" United States. The quartet accounted for more than 30 percent of spam relayed by hacked computers worldwide.

Meanwhile, notable Asian cities outside the Top 12 included Thailand ranked at 20th with 1.44 percent of the world's total spam, Indonesia at 1.29 percent, the Philippines with 0.91 percent, Malaysia at 0.65 percent and Singapore relaying 0.55 percent at 42nd position. Luxembourg was the lowest on the list with only 0.03 percent of spam relayed.

Sophos notes that a staggering 97 percent of all e-mail received by business e-mail servers are spam, adding that this puts a strain on resources and can lead to loss of productivity. The security vendor said that virtually all spam come from malware-infected computers called bots or zombies, which are controlled by "bot herder" cybercriminals.

Botnets are distributed through spam messages and users' computers will become infected if they click on the malicious links included in the spam. It is recommended that companies reduce such risks by running anti-spam and anti-malware software and ensuring that all software and hardware are up to date with security patches.

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