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The bad news for the US is that it is now responsible for more than a fifth of the world’s spam. That is 21.6 percent if you prefer, although whichever way you say it there is no escaping the nasty smell it leaves behind.

The team of experts at IT security vendors Sophos, scanned all the spam messages that were caught by the company’s extensive global network of spam traps and honeypots, and has now published the results for the third quarter of 2006 in terms of relayed spam levels.

What is immediately obvious is that legislative measures such as the CAN SPAM stuff are having precious little real world effect when it comes to significantly reducing the amount of spam that is coming through the US. Although, in mitigation, Sophos has said that one possible reason for the increasing lead that America is building up over other nations such as nearest rival China in this league of shame could be the emergence of more than 300 strains of the Stratio worm.

Stratio, which also goes by the name of Warezov, relies upon the victim being able to speak English so has not caused widespread infection in China, for example. The payload, of course, being that it turns the victims computer into a spam spurting zombie which becomes part of a global botnet.

The US apart, what is interesting to note is that China has managed to decrease the proportion of spam it relays by a credible 6.6 percent over the previous quarter, and the UK has dropped out of the chart altogether. But only just as it currently sits in 13th place. Looking at the bigger picture, as in continents rather than countries, Asia continues to be the biggest offender despite a reduction of some 6.1% since the previous quarter. Europe is closing fast though, with its share increasing by 4.8% to see it sitting uncomfortably in second place.

Sophos also warn that the reliance of spammers on embedded images to bypass filtering is on the increase though, with this now accounting for nearly 40 percent by volume of all the spam it sees. Interestingly, the vast majority of it for that other junk trend of the moment, the pump and dump stock spam. There is even a move towards animated images now, as these make detection even more difficult, as does the trick of having multiple layers of images to add noise to the message and make each one unique as a result.

According to Sophos, the league of shame when it comes to relaying the most spam between the months of July and September 2006 is as follows:

  1. United States 21.6 percent
  2. China (inc. Hong Kong) 13.4 percent
  3. France 6.3 percent
  4. South Korea 6.3 percent
  5. Spain 5.8 percent
  6. Poland 4.8 percent
  7. Brazil 4.7 percent
  8. Italy 4.3 percent
  9. Germany 3.0 percent
  10. Taiwan 2.0 percent
  11. Israel 1.8 percent
  12. Japan 1.7 percent

The breakdown of spam relaying by continent is as follows:

  1. Asia 34.1 percent
  2. Europe 31.9 percent
  3. North America 24.2 percent
  4. South America 8.3 percent
  5. Africa 1.0 percent
  6. Australasia 0.5 percent

As Editorial Director and Managing Analyst with IT Security Thing I am putting more than two decades of consulting experience into providing opinionated insight regarding the security threat landscape for IT security professionals. As an Editorial Fellow with Dennis Publishing, I bring more than two decades of writing experience across the technology industry into publications such as Alphr, IT Pro and (in good old fashioned print) PC Pro. I also write for SC Magazine UK and Infosecurity, as well as The Times and Sunday Times newspapers. Along the way I have been honoured with a Technology Journalist of the Year award, and three Information Security Journalist of the Year awards. Most humbling, though, was the Enigma Award for 'lifetime contribution to IT security journalism' bestowed on me in 2011.

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