Spam nation: U.S. tops list of spam-relaying countries

U.S. boasts nearly 19% of total spam volume from around the world, Sophos says

Spam nation. Let's face it, that's what they should call us, and it's not the eatin' spam, it's the e-mail spam. The United States of America is the top spam-belching nation in the entire world — by far.

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That's according to the Sophos "Dirty Dozen" report issued Thursday about the top spam-producing and relaying countries around the globe from July to September of this year. According to Sophos, the U.S. produces about one in five of all the junk mail polluting global networks, especially our own. (Industry estimates are that over 90% of all e-mail is spam.)

So why does America lead in the spam race? Obvious reasons for this are that it has developed bandwidth, lots of computers that cyber-criminals (from all around the world) like to exploit to turn them into botnet-control relay points, and we have a lot of suckers, as circus kingpin P.T. Barnum used to put it, born every minute who can be fooled into doing almost anything. That would include opening attachments from anybody and anything, and ordering illegal (and potentially lethal) counterfeit pharmaceuticals right off a spam message, apparently pretty fine with a box of pills that arrives from China or elsewhere far away.

Spam is also a great way to hijack your computer to steal personal information about anything that might be important, including, oh that's right, your bank account. (See the spammers in the slammer.)

"Spam isn't just a nuisance, it's used by cybercriminals as a means of growing their operations," says Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos, which makes anti-spam and other anti-malware products. "You should never be tempted to open a spam message out of curiosity, as it can only take a second to effectively hand over control of your computer to the spammers. If your computer does become part of a botnet, you're also inviting further malware infections, which may compromise your personal or banking information."

Sophos also notes a rise in spam delivered through a relatively new conduit: social networking sites Twitter and Facebook.

So, the U.S. is the No.1 spam-relaying country in the world with 18.6% of the total spam volumes, followed by India at 7.6% and Brazil at 5.7%. France, U.K., Germany, Russia, South Korea, Vietnam, Italy, Romania and Spain each count for between 5% to 2% of the volume, and the rest of the world, specified as "other" is 38.5%, according to Sophos.

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