US leads 'dirty dozen' of spam traffickers, Sophos study says

Sophos has selected its "dirty dozen" of countries that relay spam for the second quarter of 2013, and the U.S. has taken the top spot.

With a population of more than 300 million people that makes up a large portion of the world's online traffic, Sophos security evangelist, Paul Ducklin, said it is no surprise that the U.S. is the leader.

"Remember that the Dirty Dozen doesn't tell us from where the spam originates," he said. "It tells us how spam gets relayed from the crooks to their potential victims."

Belarus has risen up to take the second spot, with Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Argentina and making their debut as France, Peru, and South Korea drop from the list.

Ducklin warns that a law-abiding citizen in a law-abiding country may be contributing to the country's inclusion into the dirty dozen if the right security precautions are not undertaken on PCs. "It may sound corny, but security really does begin at home," he said.

Unknown enemy

As for what precautions people can take, Ducklin said it includes patching security loopholes, having an up-to-date antivirus solution, and being skeptical about unwanted attachments and suspicious offers.

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"By taking these steps, you'll not only protect yourself, but also help to protect everyone else at the same time," he said.

Although the dirty dozen lists ranks countries based on the amount of computers used for delivering spam, Ducklin admits that the location of spammers themselves could be entirely different.

"That's because most spam is sent indirectly these days, especially if it is overtly malevolent, such as phishing emails, malware links, malware deliveries, identity theft, investment scams, and advance fee fraud," he said.

Emerging tech markets such as China and India as rose up the dirty dozen list, with Ducklin attributing this to the large populations of the two nations and a growing demand for Internet access.

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