India tops the list of spam-relaying nations: Sophos

Earlier in April, Trend Micro had released a report stating that about 20 percent of spam originates from India. Now, Sophos has revealed its own report stating that India tops the world list in spam-relaying nations despite only 5.3 percent of the world’s Internet users reportedly living in India.  It even says that if there’s a spam mail in your inbox, there's more than a one in ten chance that it was relayed from an Indian computer. The report goes on to say that India has topped the list by a significant margin and was accountable for 11.4% of the world’s spam seen throughout April, May and June.
India tops the list
India tops the list

It is believed that a vast majority of spam comes from home computers that have been compromised by hackers and commandeered into a botnet. These remote hackers can send spam from recruited computers and are also capable of potentially stealing information or installing other malicious code. The new report further adds that there are chances that most of the spammers who are relaying their messages through compromised Indian computers are not based in the country at all - and just taking advantage of zombie computers that have been unwittingly recruited into a botnet. Such spam emails make up an average of 45-50 percent of corporate email, which means one unwanted, unsolicited message for every legitimate communication. 

The report also points out that first-time internet users in growing economies are said to be easy targets. They become an easy target as no appropriate measures are taken to block the malware infections in their PCs that spew spam. With an increase in Internet and PC penetration in India and probably lack of appropriate safety measures, users in developing countries like India become easy targets 

In Sophos’ last report, it had revealed that the overall throughput of global email spam messages had decreased since Q1 2011. One of many reasons for this is better work by ISPs. However, it had also pointed out a change in tactics employed by cybercriminals. Spammers are said to increasingly find traditional email spam ineffective and are turning to social networks to spread various kinds of marketing spam campaigns.

Social sites like Facebook and Twitter have been targeted with campaigns but the newest target of these malicious minds is Pinterest. PInterest is used by spammers to distribute posts linking to webpages that offer to sell goods, or earn commission for the spammers. Though basic marketing spam decreases, the number of messages that spread malware or represent more targetted attempts to phish usernames, passwords and personal information has been increasing.

Trend Micro’s report for the quarter's top spam-sending countries included India at 20 per cent, Indonesia at 13 per cent, South Korea at 12 per cent and Russia at 10 per cent. It even said that this isn’t a cybercrime and appears to be more of a long term or on-going campaign. Spam spewing malware was detected even in Android phones lately. The malware would spread on Android mobile phones and take control of e-mail accounts to create a ‘botnet’ and send out spam. Terry Zink, Microsoft security engineer revealed that the malware had infected phones of users who access Yahoo! e-mail accounts and sends out spam messages. Earlier a report had revealed that the malware targeting Android users have quadrupled since 2011. It said that about 10 Android malware families have come to the forefront in 2011, while the number has increased to 37 families in the first quarter of 2012. This clearly shows a year over year growth of a staggering 270 percent. A comparison between the number of malicious Android application package files (APKs) received in Q1 2011 and in Q1 2012 reveals a more alarming find — an increase from 139 to 3063 counts. [via Tech2]