Indian computers the worst for flooding the internet with spam, report discovers

Filed Under: Botnet, Featured, Spam

Flooded Taj MahalSophosLabs experts have released their latest "dirty dozen" report detailing the world's top spam-relaying countries - and have discovered that India has solidified its position as the biggest global contributor to the junk email problem.

In fact, if you have a spam in your inbox, there's a more than one in ten chance that it was relayed from an Indian computer.

The top twelve spam-relaying countries for April - June 2012

1. India 11.4%
2. Italy 7.0%
3. S Korea 6.7%
4. USA 6.2%
5. Vietnam 5.8%
6. Brazil 4.4%
7. Pakistan 3.7%
8. China 3.2%
9. France 3.1%
10. Russia 2.9%
11. Poland 2.7%
12. Taiwan 2.6%
Other 40.3%

Despite only 5.3% of the world’s internet users reportedly living in India, the country topped the list by a significant margin and was accountable for 11.4% of the world’s spam seen throughout April, May and June.

The spam itself, of course, doesn't have to promote Indian goods. Chances are that most of the spammers who are relaying their messages through compromised Indian computers are not based in the country at all - and just taking advantage of zombie computers that have been unwittingly recruited into a botnet.

The vast majority of spam comes from home computers that have been compromised by hackers in this way. Remote hackers can send spam from recruited computers, as well as potentially steal information or install other malicious code.

Spam emails make up an average of 45-50% of corporate email - that is one unwanted, unsolicited message for every legitimate communication! We all pay the price: our email systems have to process and deliver the message, and our own time is wasted dealing with the spam email once it is in our inbox.

It's also interesting to track which continents are relaying the most spam.

The top spam-relaying continents for April-June 2012

Asia 49.7%
Europe 26.4%
South America 11.2%
North America 8.6%
Africa 3.6%
Other/Unclassified 0.5%

The chief driver for Asia’s dominance in the spam charts is the sheer number of compromised computers in the continent.

Malicious hackers hijack poorly-protected computers, and command them - without their owners realising - to send out unwanted money-making messages and malicious links. Everyone has a responsibility to ensure that their PC or Mac is properly defended against such attacks. If they take no care over their computers they're simply adding to the world’s spam problem.

Spam. Image from ShutterstockThe latest "Dirty Dozen" stats suggest that as more first-time internet users get online in growing economies they are not taking appropriate measures to block the malware infections that turn their PCs into spam-spewing zombies.

Don't allow your computer to be a contributor to the global spam problem. Defend it with up-to-date anti-virus software, and take care over the links that you click on and the software you install.

Spam and flooded Taj Mahal images from ShutterStock

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8 Responses to Indian computers the worst for flooding the internet with spam, report discovers

  1. Matthew Hughes · 1171 days ago

    At the slight risk of being accused of being a pedant, "The top twelve spam relaying countries for January - March 2012" should be "The top twelve spam relaying continents for January - March 2012"

    Neither Asia, nor Europe, nor Africa and so on are countries. :)

  2. Lee · 1171 days ago

    I just want to know why. Why do they do this? What is the purpose, no one wants to buy from someone who constantly pours not wanted email into your box. I actually got mine cleaned up, by unsubscribing to most, but the one I can not unsubscribe is to the "male enhancement emails" and some of them are just gross. And to top it off, I am not even a male!
    Some of these emails also have my name on it. How do they get that too? I just wish I understood the reasoning behind all of this.

    • It's True · 1171 days ago

      Spammers can make upwards of $5000/day reports have shown. The conversion rate may be VERY low however due to very cheap server costs and the use of bot-nets the price to send the spam is virtually free. Therefore any amount created is profit.

  3. Tamas Feher · 1171 days ago

    Dear Sirs,

    Are you sure about the mainland China spam data at just 3.2%? Kaspersky's VirusList dotcom reports China at 25.4% for May and 36.6% for June 2012, which is a massive growth trend and a full magnitude above your data.

    Could this contradiction be resolved by saying that Kaspersky Lab does tests in the former soviet bloc territories (russophonic sphere of influence) while Sophos is more focused on the anglo-saxon free world? Or maybe there is a more fundamental disagreement hidden somewhere?

    Interstingly Kaspersky reports 12.3-12.6% for India for May and June 2012, which is really close to your 11.4% data. Also there is no disagreement about the spam-making role of Asia continent, where you specify 49.7% and KL estimates a little over 50%.

    It is only the spam-spreading role of China PRC, where two respectable AV companies are spewing out totally incompatible data. This will confuse IT journalists and prompt netizens to theorize that IT-sec companies make up spam data out of vaporware. It would be great if the two of you could compare data and reach a joint conclusion, not just for PR value, but to better shed light on the asian spam tech issue.

    Thanks for your kind attention!

    Yours Faithfully: Tamas Feher from Hungary.

  4. While one can appreciate and welcome the technological advances and hunger for IT progress in India they must learn that it is not acceptable to be labeled as the number one spam nation!

    Some really have brass necks and an unadulterated cheek in their approach which can be overtly aggressive and insistive. Generates distrust and an inkling of something fishy and nefarious.

    Introduction and enforcement of relative regulations must be strongly policed in India least they loose the great chance they have in business world integration.

    SPAM just simply needs to be wiped from the map to ensure continued growth and trust in the Internet.

  5. The answer is simple. Every country passes legislation ensuring that no computer may be sold without an Malware and anti virus software. As with OS systems that are sold with a computer business can do the same with anti virus.

  6. G. Mendez · 1169 days ago

    The writer of this article, needs to be educated in I.T, when pointing out, that "Everyone has a responsibility to ensure that their PC or Mac is properly defended against such attacks. If they take no care over their computers they're simply adding to the world’s spam problem." It's not just the PC! How about the server/network layer? doesn't this play a part? They all go hand-in-hand! Your gateway, is the safety valve of your network, a network engineer's responsibility! If you have no gateway, or lack there of, your just as vulnerable to becoming a "ZOMBIE, or BOT Server!

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About the author

Graham Cluley runs his own award-winning computer security blog at, and is a veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and gives computer security presentations. Follow him on Twitter at @gcluley