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The US has yet again topped a list of spam producing countries. One in four (26.4 per cent) of the spam messages intercepted by security firm Sophos's global network of spam traps between April - September, 2005 came from the USA. South Korea, second in the chart, accounted for a further 19.8 per cent of junk messages, with third place China accounting for 15.7 per cent of spam email trapped by Sophos.

Although the USA is responsible for producing more than a quarter of all of the world's spam, its percentage contribution has decreased from 40 per cent in the same period last year. Sophos reckons 60 per cent of the world's spam comes from compromised, zombie computers. This popular spammer tactic means home PCs are often commandeered by hackers and used to send junk mail without their owner's knowledge. Security firms and government agencies have joined forces over recent months to urge users to take basic security precautions (such as keeping Windows boxes up to date with patches and running anti-virus software with the latest signature updates) in order to combat the problem.

"Efforts such as ISPs sharing knowledge on how to crack down on spammers, and authorities enforcing the CAN-SPAM legislation, have helped North America tackle the spammers based on their doorsteps. Some of the most prolific spammers have been forced to either quit the business or relocate overseas as a result," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. "The introduction of Windows XP SP2 a year ago, with its improved security, has also helped better defend home users from computer hijacking. The worry now is that devious spammers will turn to other net-based money-making schemes, such as spyware and identity theft malware to make their dirty money." ®

Top 10 spam producing countries, according to Sophos

  1. United States
  2. South Korea
  3. China (including Hong Kong)
  4. France
  5. Brazil
  6. Canada
  7. Taiwan
  8. Spain
  9. Japan
  10. United Kingdom

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