The 'Dirty Dozen' spamming countries

  • TECH
  • Monday, 22 Jul 2013

The United States has come up tops in a "Dirty Dozen" list of spam relaying countries for the second quarter of this year, according to security specialist company Sophos.  

Belarus makes a significant jump into second place. And three new countries enter the top twelve — Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Argentina, while three other countries exit the Dirty Dozen — France, Peru and South Korea.

(Once in every three months, Sophos comes up with a country-by-country spam trap statistics for the previous quarter and calculate its 'Dirty Dozen'.)

Sophos says it came as no surprise that the US, which has over 300 million people, and the lion's share of the world's internet connectivity, was in the lead in terms of sheer volume of spam.

Similarly, it said, China and India had made the list in light of their population of over a billion and their increasing demand for internet access in both countries.

However the list looks a lot different when the spam is scaled in proportion to each countries, says Paul Ducklin, Sophos security evangelist.

When looked in this light, half of the volume-based countries are gone, and others that would usually fly under the radar when measured on spamming volume alone, like Luxembourg and Singapore, suddenly burst onto the scene.

"However, this doesn't mean that Singapore is replete with spam-related cyber criminality," said Ducklin.
"Remember that the Dirty Dozen doesn't tell us from where the spam originates," said Ducklin. "It tells us how spam gets relayed from the crooks to their potential victims.

Most spam is sent indirectly these days, he said, especially if it is overtly malevolent, such as:
  • Phishing emails. These try to lure you into entering passwords into mock-ups of a real site such as your bank or your webmail account.
  • Malware links. These urge you to click links that put you directly in harm's way by taking your browser to hacked websites.
  • Malware deliveries. These use false pretences, such as fake invoices, to trick you into opening infected attachments.
  • Identity theft. These invite you to reply with personally identifiable information, often by claiming to offer work from home opportunities.
  • Investment scams. These talk up investment plans that are at best unregulated and at worst completely fraudulent.
  • Advance fee fraud. These promise wealth or romance, but there are all sorts of fees, bribes and payments to hand over first.
Even if you're the most law-abiding citizen of the most law-abiding country in the world, you might be helping to project your own country into the Dirty Dozen if you don't take security seriously on your own computer. It may sound corny, but security really does begin at home." added Ducklin

There are a few simple precautions can help enormously, according to Ducklin. These include "timely security patching, an up-to-date anti-virus and a healthy skepticism about unwanted attachments and 'too good to be true' offers.

By taking these steps, you'll not only protect yourself, but also help to protect everyone else at the same time." he added.

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