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Axis of Spam

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Five countries are hosting the overwhelming majority - a staggering 99.68 per cent - of spammer websites, according to a study out yesterday.

Most spam that arrives in email boxes contains a URL to a website within an email, to allow users to buy spamvertised products online. While 49 countries around the world are hosting spammer websites, unethical hosting firms overwhelmingly operate from just a few global hotspots. Anti-spam vendors Commtouch reckons 73.58 per cent of the websites referenced within spam sent last month were hosted in China, a 4.5 per cent decrease from May. South Korea (10.91 per cent), the United States (9.47 per cent), the Russian Federation (3.5 per cent) and Brazil (2.23 per cent) made up the remainder of the "Axis of Spam".

Anti-spam legislation and enforcement action tends to focus on people distributing spam rather than the organisations hiring spammers. Commtouch's survey - although it doesn't have much to say about shutting down spammer websites - at least gives one of the clearest indications we've seen to date on where these sites are located.

Meanwhile, the United States continues to lead as the main origin of spam, with nearly 55.69 per cent of all spam being sent from the U.S. South Korea (10.23 per cent), China (6.60 per cent), Brazil (3.35 per cent) and Canada (3.08 per cent) are other common sources of spam. The UK - source of 1.2 per cent of global spam - appears in 10th place in Commtouch's chart.

Product pitches

Offers for drugs (29.53 per cent), mortgage loans and refinance deals (9.68 per cent) and organ (I take it you mean penis - Ed) enlargement offers (7.05 per cent) topped the list of products spamvertised during first half of 2004, according to Commtouch. Viagra is the "King of Spam" appearing in 14.1 per cent of the hundreds of millions of spam messages detected by Commtouch in the first half of 2004.

Over the same period, pornography and casino spam messages declined to rates of 3.1 per cent and 0.45 per cent of global junk mail, respectively. Commtouch reports that the bulk of spam during the first half of 2004 was written in English, with foreign languages employed in just 5.77 per cent of global spam.

Just under one in 10 spam messages (9.8 per cent) detected by Commtouch last month were compliant with recently introduced US anti-spam legislation, the CAN-SPAM Act. To be CAN-SPAM compliant email ads must have a non-deceptive subject line and the ability for users to unsubscribe from future messages, among other things.

Commtouch reports that 21.6 per cent of global spam messages included visible random characters in the subject, body or both. Sadly, it doesn't say how much of this is eligible for classification as "spam poetry".

Which is a shame. ®

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