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."

About the Author

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.