Europe leapfrogs Asia as top spam-relaying continent

Focus on Europe
Sophos’s latest report into spam-relaying around the world has discovered that Europe has snatched the top spot from Asia, as the top continent for relaying spam emails.

With 35% of all spam intercepted by Sophos’s global network of spam traps coming via European computers, it’s way ahead of Asia and North America.

Now, it’s important to remember that in the vast majority of cases spammers don’t use their own computers to send out the spam that’s arriving in your inboxes. Instead, they take over botnets of compromised computers around the world (that have been infected with malware) and without the knowledge of their rightful owners, send out junk mail in the background.

These cybercriminals are motivated by money – and they don’t just use your hacked PC to spread spam, but also to steal your identity and bank account information, to launch denial-of-service attacks and to distribute malware to recruit even more innocent computers into their army.

And you would be mistaken to think that this is just a Windows problem.

Just last month Apple updated Mac OS X’s rudimentary malware protection to detect a backdoor Trojan horse that can be used by hackers to spread spam.

And SophosLabs has blogged before about the number of compromised Linux computers we see around the world.

The truth is that spam is a problem for all of us – regardless of where we are in the world, and regardless of what kind of computer we use.

It’s an uphill struggle educating users about the dangers of clicking on links or attachments in spam mails, and that their computers may already be under the control of cybercriminals. Everyone on the internet must take a more proactive approach to spam filtering and IT security in order to avoid adding to this global problem.

The top twelve spam-relaying countries for April – June 2010

1. USA 15.2%
2. India 7.7%
3. Brazil 5.5%
4. UK 4.6%
5. S Korea 4.2%
6. France 4.1%
7. Germany 4.0%
8. Italy 3.5%
9. Russia 2.8%
10. Vietnam 2.7%
11. Poland 2.5%
12. Romania 2.3%
Other 40.9%

Top spam-relaying continents, April – June 2010

1. Europe 35.0%
2. Asia 30.9%
3. N America 18.9%
4. S America 11.5%
5. Africa 2.5%
Other 1.2%