Russia Emerges As Spam Superpower, Sophos Says

Boston (MA) - Spam originating from Russian computers have seen a dramatic rise in recent months, according to Sophos.

The security software firm found that the number of spam messages sent from compromised Russian computers nearly doubled from the third to the fourth quarter of last year. The country now is the world's second largest spam distributor, accounting for 8.3% for global spam. Back in June 2007, Russia was ranked 8th with a share of 3.7% in Sophos' list.

While Sophos already calls Russia a "spam superpower", we have to be realistic and see that the country cannot threaten the spam dominance of the U.S. yet. Sophos estimates that the U.S. accounted for about 21.3% of spam in December, down from 28.4% in September and slightly up from the level measured in June 2007.

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There appears to be a trend of decreasing spam for at least two countries and one of them surely is a surprise: China has cut its share in half, from 8.4% in June to 4.2% in December. South Korea is also on a downward trend, dropping from 6.5% to 3.9% in the same time frame. All other countries on the list show only minor fluctuations over the second half of 2007.

From a continent perspective, overall Asia is also reducing its share: It remains the world's leading spam distributor, but now accounts for "only" 32.1%, down from 35.2% in June. Europe stays in second place with a 27.1% share, down from 28.5% and the U.S. is still in third with 26.5%, up from 24.2%. South America is currently estimated at 12.5% and Africa at 1.1%.

Using spam to artificially inflate the price of stock is an ongoing spam trend, according to Sophos. But October 2007 saw a relatively new "MP3 pump and dump" campaign, which used supposed music files labeled from stars such as Elvis Presley, Fergie and Carrie Underwood. The files actually contained a monotone voice encouraging people to buy shares in a little-known company, Sophos said.