USA Maintains Spam Lead

By Andrew LaVallee

We’re No. 1! In sending spam, that is.

The United States continued to be the top country relaying junk email in the first quarter.

It has the dubious distinction of being the top relayer — responsible for 15.8% of world-wide spam during the first three months of 2009 — for at least the last five years, said Dmitry Samosseiko , a manager of SophosLabs. “Russia or China would sometimes come close, but the U.S. would still be at No. 1.”

While it may seem like the majority of pharmaceutical and wire-transfer email offers are coming from places like Nigeria, most spam is sent by unsuspecting PCs. If spammers use their own computers, “it would be easy to find out who they are,” Mr. Samosseiko said. “That’s the reason they use the army of infected computers, so-called botnets, because they contain sometimes hundreds of thousands of computers” that they can use to relay spam.

Countries seeing an increase in computer ownership and Internet use tend to rank higher because consumers haven’t gotten in the habit of securing their PCs, he said. One example, Brazil, jumped to second place from fourth last quarter. Others in the “Dirty Dozen,” as Sophos calls them, include India, Turkey, Argentina and Poland.