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Australia drops off "dirty dozen" spammers list

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Sophos , a world leader in protecting businesses against viruses, spyware and spam, has published its latest report on the top twelve spam relaying countries over the past six months.

Experts at SophosLabs scanned all spam messages received in its global network of spam traps, and have revealed the top twelve spam sending countries.

The United States remains the worst offender, but is relaying substantially less of the world's spam than it did a year ago.

Sophos also found that over 60% of spam comes from zombie computers, which are hijacked PCs infected by malware. This technique allows culprits to send spam to innocent computers in any country.

The top twelve spam relaying countries are as follows, with the figures in brackets denoting the spam relayed by each country in the same period in 2004:

April - September, 2005

1. United States 26.35% (41.50%)

2. South Korea 19.73% (11.63%)

3. China (incl Hong Kong) 15.70% (8.90%)

4. France 3.46% (1.27%)

5. Brazil 2.67% (3.91%)

6. Canada 2.53% (7.06%)

7. Taiwan 2.22% (0.86%)

8. Spain 2.21% (1.04%)

9. Japan 2.02% (2.66%)

10. United Kingdom 1.55% (1.07%)

11. Pakistan 1.42% (new entry)

12. Germany 1.26% (1.02%)

Others 18.88% (18.10%)

Rob Forsyth, managing director for Sophos Australia and New Zealand, said it was great to see Australia had slipped off the dirty dozen spamming countries list.

“The combination of legislation, education and software appears to be winning the local battle against spam."

Whilst North America still accounts for nearly 30% of all spam, the USA and Canada have done well to reduce their contribution by almost 20% in the past year.

Sophos has seen a sharp drop in spam sent from North American computers due to a number of factors, including jail sentences for spammers, tighter legislation and better system security.

Feeling the impact of international awareness and country-specific legislation, spammers are increasingly turning to illegitimate providers to fuel their success and their key partners in crime are virus writers and hackers. By taking control of unprotected PCs, hackers can relay spam, launch denial-of-service attacks or steal user information, without the computer owners being any the wiser.

Sophos recommends that computer users keep anti-virus software up-to date, as well as using a properly configured firewall and installing the latest operating system security patches, to reduce the risk of their PCs becoming part of a zombie network. Businesses must also look to implement a best practice policy regarding email account usage.

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