Phantom lonely women online were lures to victims of malware in February

China and the US were countries with the biggest spammers, but at 6th place, India could soon get that dubious top slot once internet penetration rates ramp up

Mal one


Lust and loneliness turned out to be the biggest chinks in our digital armor for the month of February. According to a recent research report done by security firm Kaspersky Lab, February was a jackpot for spammers worldwide thanks to Valentine’s day. India came 6th in the rankings of highest spammers. 

Apparently, a lot of the world’s citizens were taken in by emails sent by alleged single women eager to make friends over the internet. Many were suckered into clicking on what they thought were explicit photographs. Instead, the clicks released Trojans that went onto install malware on systems that aimed to steal document files from computers or mount a denial-of-service (DDoS) attack on websites rendering them unavailable. Apparently the proportion of spam in email traffic that month was up by 70 percent. 

Mal three

Also featured amongst this malicious spam was ransomware, where computers are prevented from functioning unless a ransom is paid, and the Andromeda backdoor which allows cybercriminals to secretly control a computer. According to the report, Social networking sites remained favourite phishing targets, email services followed and financial and e-pay organizations came third.

China (23%), the US (19.1%) and South Korea (12.8%) were countries housing the biggest spammers. The statistic for the top ten spammers in 2013 was not all that different. Apparently, China (up by 3.5 percentage points and the US (up by 2 percentage points) were the source of 40.6 percent of the world’s spam last year and ranked first and second. Their positions matched their rankings of countries with internet users.

Which brings us back to India. In general, it turns out that the volume of spam tends to match internet penetration, and so China’s and the US’s rankings make sense. However, India, at some 160 million Internet users has a ways to go before all 1.2 billion of its citizens get connected. Imagine the mountain of spam that could engulf the world by the time that happens. 

Already, according to this earlier ZDNet article , University of Twente PhD candidate Giovane César Moreira Moura’s dissertation thesis "Internet bad neighbourhoods" shows that India is a major offender considering its meagerly-wired population. State-owned telco BSNL was the biggest individual source of spam. 

A comparatively tiny percentage of ISP’s—just 20 out of 42,201 that were studied worldwide—produced nearly 50 percent of the world’s spam. New Delhi topped the list of world's 'spammiest' cities, followed by Bangalore (3rd), Madras (7th), Pune (9th), Hyderabad (11th), and Calcutta (18th.)

Not a top 20 list to be proud of.