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20 July 2009, 14:18

US the origin of 16 per cent of spam

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According to a spam trend report published by the security specialists Sophos, about 1 in 6 junk emails, or 15.6 per cent of spam worldwide, now originates in the US. In contrast, Russia, formerly a big source of spam, is currently only responsible for 3.2 per cent. By continent, Asia continues to be the worst offender with 31.7 per cent. Spamhaus' current ranking (at time of writing) for the top ten countries over the last 24 hours also shows the US as the main spam source.

As Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos, points out "Barack Obama's recent speech on cyber-security emphasised the threat posed by overseas criminals and enemy states, but these figures prove that there is a significant problem in his own back yard. If America could clean up its compromised PCs it would be a considerable benefit to everyone around the world who uses the net."

Sophos say that the growth in micro-blogging and social networking sites in combination with the associated support services such as TinyURL, and has provided the spammers with a new trick. These services are used to create the more convenient short links, inserted in micro-blogs, that redirect to much lengthier URLs. Spammers exploit these services to disguise links to offensive or malicious websites when distributing the links in spam emails or posting on Twitter.

Malicious hackers recently attacked the link shortening service Cligs and redirected many of its links to a single site of their choice. This demonstrates how spammers are becoming more sophisticated in their attacks, reaching out beyond their natural email habitat.

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