The United States holds many titles, some of them causes for joy while others are reason for shame. The latter category has long included 'King of Spam' being the country from which the majority of the spam on the planet originates.
However, thanks to the closure of just one spam hosting service recently, it has now lost that crown of shame to China. According to one security outfit that monitors spam traffic, Network Box, China now produces more spam than the US, more spam than anywhere else for that matter.
As a direct consequence of the California-based McColo hosting service, said to have been responsible for distributing as much as 75 percent of global spam, spam volumes dropped dramatically as botnet herders struggle to regain control over compromised computers the world over. It seems that malware traffic has also taken a big hit. Simon Heron, Internet Security Analyst at Network Box, told me that "We've also seen a significant drop in emails containing viruses and phishing attacks. This indicates that McColo's servers were also used to distribute malicious emails containing viruses, and not just the usual junk marketing mail."
However, Heron also warns that "McColo came back online briefly over last weekend, most likely uploading all the command and control software required to run the botnets. So we'd expect spam to be back to usual levels in a couple of weeks using servers based in Russia."
For the moment though, China gets the spam crown and also seems to be winning in the cyber warfare stakes as well. US Congress has warned that China now has the capability to launch a cyber warfare strikeanywhere in the world and at any time. The Congress report goes as far as to claim that the Chinese cyber warfare capability is "so sophisticated that the US may be unable to counteract or even detect the efforts."
I'm a hacker turned writer and consultant, specialising in IT security. I've been a freelance word punk for over 20 years and along the way I have seen 23 of my books published, produced and presented programmes for TV and radio, picked up a bunch of awards and continue being a contributing editor with PC Pro - the best selling IT magazine in the UK .