- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 12, 2005


The United States is still the superpower of spam, beating China and South Korea to keep the dubious honor in the latest survey of the origin of unwanted e-mail clogging the world’s inboxes.

Security firm Sophos Inc. also found in the survey of the “dirty dozen” top spamming nations that “zombie computers” — hijacked personal computers often located in different countries than the spammer — were to blame for 60 percent of the world’s spam.

Between April and September, 26.4 percent of the world’s spam came from the United States, compared with 41.5 percent a year earlier, according to Sophos.

South Korea and China held the next two spots, with their spam production rising fast. South Korea was the source of 19.7 percent of the world’s spam, compared with 11.6 percent the previous year.

China was pegged at 15.7 percent, up more than 6 percent from the same time period in 2004.

France (3.4 percent), Brazil (2.6), Canada (2.5), Taiwan (2.2), Spain (2.2), Japan (2.0), Britain (1.5), Pakistan (1.4) and Germany (1.2) rounded out the “dirty dozen.”

“The United States and Canada have significantly reduced their role in the problem,” Sophos representatives said.

“Sophos has seen a sharp drop in spam sent from North American computers due to a number of factors: jail sentences for spammers, tighter legislation and better system security.”

In August, three persons in the United States were indicted and a fourth pleaded guilty to criminal charges in the first case related to the transmission of obscene spam e-mail under the 2003 federal CAN-SPAM (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act) law.

Sophos warned that action against spammers on their home turf meant they simply would look to hijack unprotected personal computers in other countries.

“There are fortunes to be made from the dark side of the Internet, and spammers who are finding it harder to sell goods via bulk e-mail are likely to turn to other criminal activities,” said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant with Sophos.

Authorities from the United States and 25 other countries in May began a new initiative to crack down on spam sent through hijacked computers, or “zombies.”

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