New Delhi April 21 2012: India has overtaken the United States to become the world’s top contributor of junk messages, being responsible for relaying one in ten spam emails. This is the finding of a study by IT security and data protection firm Sophos, covering the first quarter of 2012.
Most spam comes from home computers that have been compromised by hackers. India's rise to the top spot comes as the number of new internet users in the country is growing very rapidly, suggesting that computers in the country are not properly protected and that ISPs are not taking spam as seriously as they should.
Overall throughput of global email spam messages has decreased since Q1 2011, partly because of better work by ISPs around the world, but also reflecting a change in tactics by cybercriminals. Spammers are increasingly finding traditional email spam ineffective, turning to social networks to spread these kinds of marketing spam campaigns instead.
While basic marketing spam decreases, the amount of messages that spread malware or that represent more targeted attempts to phish usernames, passwords and personal information is increasing.
Dirty Dozen: The top 12 spam-relaying countries for January to March 2012:
1 India 9.3%
2 USA 8.3%
3 South Korea 5.7%
4 Indonesia 5.0%
5 Russia 5.0%
6 Italy 4.9%
7 Brazil 4.3%
8 Poland 3.9%
9 Pakistan 3.3%
10 Vietnam 3.2%
11 Taiwan 2.9%
12 Peru 2.5%
(Rest 41.7 %)
"While traditional marketing spam may appear to be no more than an annoyance, offering pills that have questionable claims or to get you rich quick, they can often to lead to more serious threats to your personal information," says Graham Cluley, Senior Technology Consultant at Sophos. "The latest stats show that, as more first-time internet users get online in growing economies, they are not taking measures to block the malware infections that turn their PCs into spam-spewing zombies."
Sophos recommends that companies automatically update their corporate virus protection, and run a consolidated solution at their email and web gateways to defend against spam and viruses. Home users are advised to defend their computers with virus protection, to prevent becoming part of a botnet used for the purposes of sending spam. www.sophos.com