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Russia has eclipsed the USA as the main villain in global spam distribution, according to stats published by Russian security firm Kaspersky Lab on Wednesday.

While Russia was top of the rogues, the USA fell from its customary heights to a lowly 18th place for October, the month covered by the latest reports.

Kaspersky credits the takedown of both the Pushdo/Cutwail and Bredolab botnets for the drop. Many of the infected machines that made up the components of these zombie networks were based in the US. So by taking out the command-and-control centres that control these compromised clients, security researchers and law enforcement effectively stemmed an outflow of junk that has been polluting the internet for years.

Figures from other security firms over recent weeks have told of a decline for similar reasons, without mentioning the US to Russia swing in spam sources. However, few experts expect the drop to be sustained over the long term. Kaspersky's chart provides an interesting snapshot, but it would be unwise to read too much into isolated figures unless they are repeated over several months and by a few independent sources.

Kaspersky also reports that a third of phishing emails targeted PayPal. Facebook was the second most common subject of fraudulent emails that attempt to trick users into handing over login credentials to bogus websites, the Russian security firm reports.

Other frequent targets of phishing attacks included HSBC and Blizzard Entertainment, the World of Warcraft developer. ®

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