Email attachments are unsafe

Over half of all spam messages come from Asia

IT security firm Sophos has revealed the top twelve countries responsible for spam messages from its Q3 2011 report, the ‘Dirty Dozen'.

Although the US remains the worst offender, collectively Asian nations contribute a higher proportion of global spam. During the Q3/2010, Asia was responsible for 30 per cent of spam, but has increased to 50.1 per cent. The UK occupies fifth place, contributing 5 per cent  in Q3/2010, but now resides in 16th place, responsible for 1.6 per cent of global spam.

The vast majority of spam emails are distributed by botnets - networks of infected machines called zombies which are under the control of spammers. Typical methods of infections include clicking on links or attachments in spam messages and social networking services are also exploited by fraudsters to spread money-making surveys.

Botnets are used by cybercriminals to launch Distributed Denial of Service attacks, where thousands of zombie computers are used to connect to a specific website, forcing it offline as it struggles to cope with the increase in traffic. Sophos warns computer users are at risk of becoming botnets if they do not run up-to-date anti-virus software.

"The spam that attempts to smash its way into users' email accounts can vary from being annoying adverts to downright malicious attacks. In the worst cases, a spam message might be designed to infect your computer with a Trojan horse or phish your banking credentials," says senior technology consultant at Sophos Graham Cluley. "These latest statistics suggest that, as more people get online in Asia, they are not taking the right measures to protect their computers from infection, which results in the growth of botnets."

The top 12 spam relaying countries for July to September 2011 are as follows:

1.      United States - 11.3 per cent
2.      S Korea - 9.6 per cent
3.      India - 8.8 per cent
4.      Russia - 7.9 per cent
5.      Brazil - 5.7 per cent
6.      Taiwan - 3.8 per cent
7.      Vietnam - 3.5 per cent
8.      Indonesia - 3.3 per cent
9.      Ukraine - 3.1 per cent
10.     Romania - 2.8 per cent
11.     Pakistan - 2.0 per cent
12.     Italy - 1.9 per cent

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