US still top in ‘spam relay’ Dirty Dozen: Sophos
Security company releases Q2 global spam tracking results
Security specialist Sophos has published its latest 'Dirty Dozen' of spam relaying countries, covering the second quarter of 2013. As the US retains the top spot among spam-relaying countries, Belarus makes a significant jump into second place.
Although Sophos’ league table shows the extent to which a country's computers are used for delivering spam, it does not identify where the spammers themselves are located. That is because most spam is sent indirectly, particularly if it is overtly malevolent, such as:
• Phishing emails: These try to lure users into entering passwords into mock-ups of a real site such as their bank or Web email account.
• Malware links: These urge targets to click links that put them directly in harm's way by redirecting to hacked websites.
• Malware deliveries: These use false pretences, such as fake invoices, to trick people into opening infected attachments.
• Identity theft: These invite a reply with personally identifiable information, often by claiming to offer work-from-home opportunities.
• Investment scams: These talk up investment plans that are at best unregulated and at worst completely fraudulent.
• Advance fee fraud: These promise wealth or romance, but there are all sorts of fees, bribes and payments to hand over first.
"Remember that the Dirty Dozen doesn't tell us from where the spam originates," said Paul Ducklin, Sophos “security evangelist”.
"It tells us how spam gets relayed from the crooks to their potential victims. Even if you're the most law-abiding citizen of the most law-abiding country in the world, you might be helping to project your own country into the Dirty Dozen if you don't take security seriously on your own computer. It may sound corny, but security really does begin at home."
A few simple precautions can help, according to Ducklin. These include "timely security patching, an up-to-date anti-virus and a healthy skepticism about unwanted attachments and 'too good to be true' offers. By taking these steps, you'll not only protect yourself, but also help to protect everyone else at the same time."