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China poised to pinch US spam crown

Junk mail relay countries named and shamed

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China is closing in on the USA at the top of a league of spam relaying countries. According to statistics from security firm Sophos, compiled in the first three months of 2006, China (including Hong Kong) originated 21.9 per cent of the junk mail messages captured in its spam traps compared to 23.1 per cent for the US.

Two years ago, the US accounted for half of all spam sent in the world, a figure that has now dropped to less than a quarter, thanks to crackdowns against spammers and better information sharing among ISPs. But despite progress from the United States in reducing its spam-relaying quotient, there's still more junk mail sent from US computers than any other nation. However as a continent, North America is now close to being overtaken by Europe, with both lying behind Asia in terms of volume of spam each is responsible for.

The reduction in US-relayed spam has shaken up Sophos's chart, with China edging closer to the top. Poland, Spain and Germany all saw their spam-relaying percentages rise between Q4 2005, and Q1 2006, while the UK (absent from the Q4 2005 chart) has now re-entered the table in tenth position.

Sophos notes that the vast majority of spam is generated by zombie computers (infected computers under the control of hackers). "A combination of technology, legal action, user education and international co-operation is needed to truly make spam a thing of the past," a Sophos spokesman commented.

Sophos's dirty dozen of spam relaying countries

  1. United States (23.1 per cent)
  2. China (incl Hong Kong) (21.9 per cent)
  3. South Korea (9.8 per cent)
  4. France (4.3 per cent)
  5. Poland (3.8 per cent)
  6. Spain (3.3 per cent)
  7. Germany (3.0 per cent)
  8. Brazil (2.9 per cent)
  9. Japan (2.0 per cent)
  10. United Kingdom (1.9 per cent)
  11. Netherlands (1.8 per cent)
  12. Taiwan (1.6 per cent)

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