Computer Crime Research Center


US is the major silicon spam valley

Date: January 27, 2006
By: Jack Kapica

The United States, with anti-spam laws in place, still tops the "Dirty Dozen" list of countries that spew the most unsolicited e-mail, a new survey says.

Security experts at Sophos, in Lynnfield, Mass., said in an announcement Monday that although the U.S. is still the most prolific spam source, its output has dropped dramatically, from 42.5 per cent of the world's spam in late 2004 to 24.5 per cent in late 2005.

Canada has increased its spam output its spam volume marginally in that time frame — from 2.9 per cent to 3 per cent — but still has a grip on a distant fifth place in the Dirty Dozen list.

Sophos created the list by deploying "spam traps" — computers without protection designed for that purpose — around the world, and tracking their source to the countries where the spam made its final journey.

The company credits tough legislation such as the U.S. CAN-SPAM Act and greater information sharing by Internet Service Providers, for the drop in the U.S. figures. The country has imposed strict penalties and fines for those found guilty of spamming, including a $11.2-billion (U.S.) judgment against Florida-based spammer James McCalla. Another spammer, Daniel Lin of

Detroit, faces a sentence of at least two years imprisonment for his actions.

Sophos said that its figures do not reflect the source of the spam, but the countries where computers infected with spammers' Trojan viruses are located. A residential computer in Canada, for instance, could be the source of spam coming from Hong Kong or Brazil, but Canada would be counted as a spam "relay."

These "zombie" computers relay more than 60 per cent of the world's spam. Using this system, spammers can to escape country-specific laws because they no longer have to be located in the same country as the spamming machines they operate.

A major indicator of this trend is in the volume of non-English spam, Sophos said, which continues to increase.

Another major trend in spam appears to be a sizable increase of "pump-and-dump" stock spam, designed to artificially inflate stock prices before spammers sell shares at a profit.

Another country with a significant drop in its volume of spam is South Korea, where it has fallen to 9.7 per cent, It has been overtaken by China, which moved into second place behind the United States.

Britain, responsible for relaying 1.6 per cent of spam, has managed to slip off the Dirty Dozen altogether, and is currently in 14th position.

After the United States, the Dirty Dozen continue with China (including Hong Kong), 22.3 per cent; South Korea, 9.7 per cent; France, 5 per cent; Canada, 3 per cent; Brazil, 2.6 per cent; Spain, 2.5 per cent; Austria, 2.4 per cent; Taiwan, 2.1 per cent; Poland and Japan, tied for 10th place, at 2 per cent; Germany, 1.8 per cent; and all others, 20.3 per cent.

In its announcement, Sophos also noted without comment that on Jan. 24, 2004, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Microsoft's chairman Bill Gates had predicted that spam would be a "thing of the past" within two years.
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