China is now Asia's top spamming nation

The Asian country was second only to the United States in the amount of spam relayed between October and December last year.

Spam contribution from China grew significantly in the last quarter of 2005, edging ahead of Korea for the first time in 18 months and making China the top spamming nation in Asia, according to security vendor Sophos.

From October to December last year, spam messages from China, including Hong Kong, accounted for 22.3 percent of all spam monitored by experts at SophosLabs, the company said in a statement Tuesday. This marks China's rise to second place, a position Korea has occupied since August 2004, according to news releases found on the company's Web site.

Spam contribution from China has jumped 150.6 percent in less than two years. Between April and September 2005, the country accounted for 15.7 percent of unsolicited e-mail worldwide. During the same period in 2004, it registered only 8.9 percent.

Sophos' 'Dirty Dozen' list, which names the top 12 spam relaying countries, reported a reduction in spam contribution from South Korea. The country, in third place, accounted for 9.7 percent of spam messages during the October to December period. Between April and September 2005, it accounted for 19.7 percent.

Spam from the United States has also reduced significantly, the report noted, although the country remains as the world's top spam-relaying nation with a 24.5 percent share. Between April and September 2005, it accounted for 26.4 percent of spam messages tracked by Sophos. In that same period the previous year, the U.S. contributed 41.5 percent of the spam messages.

The report noted that legislation and enforcement played a part in the falling spam contribution rates from the U.S. The country has also begun to impose severe penalties on errant spammers.

In two recent cases, a spammer in Florida wasmade to pay US$11.2 billion in damages to a U.S.-based Internet services provider, and a Detroit man faces a two-year jail term for allegedly sending millions of spam messages.

"It's good news for the U.S.--the tougher sentences being dished out are clearly making spammers feel the heat," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos, in the statement.

According to Sophos, there are also "sizeable increases" in spam designed to inflate stock prices, allowing spammers to sell shares at a considerable profit.