Friday, 19 October 2012

India leads the world in spam distribution, everyone else is to blame

Tired of getting spam in your mailbox? Don’t blame India.

According to SophosLab’s most recent “dirty dozen” report, Indians lead the world for the third quarter in a row in spam distribution. It’s like the worst hat trick ever.

So why shouldn’t we blame them?

India doesn’t lead the world in spam production — only distribution. And in the case of spam, these are very different. As it turns out, most spam is distributed unknowingly through malware-infected computers. The users don’t even know they’re spamming. So all this study really shows is that Indians are not using proper security measures on their machines and, because of this vulnerability, are used extensively for botnet spam distribution.

According to Spamhaus, an international non-profit that tracks spam production and distribution, the United States, China, and Russia are responsible for the top spots in world spam production. In fact, India doesn’t even make the top 10 on their list.

Sophos senior technology consultant Graham Culey made this very point when speaking on the newest Dirty Dozen report.
The latest Dirty Dozen report suggests that a not insignificant number of PCs in India are harbouring malware infections that turn PCs into spam-spitting zombie slaves, controlled by the cybercriminals who make money by punting junk emails to promote questionable goods, or simply use malicious spam to infect more computers.  The authorities in India need to make IT security education a priority.  One would be safe to assume that, if computer users in the country are being targeted in order to relay spam, they are likely victims of other online threats such as fraud. [Sophos]
 What researchers ought to be looking at are the dynamics of internet access in a fast developing country like India. Indians make up 5.3% of the world’s internet users, but only 10.2% of Indians use computers. So the fact that this small piece of the global internet pie is dishing out 16% of its spam is concerning and should certainly be something we watch as internet access expands in other developing countries.

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