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RealTime IT News

Microsoft, Sophos: Most Spam Comes From U.S.

Where does spam come from? If you guessed the U.S., you'd be right, according to new data from Microsoft's Hotmail team and online security player Sophos.

This conclusion was supported by data from The Honeypot Project, which is run by anti-spam firm Unspam Technologies and consisted of 41,073,248 spam traps at press time, with more added regularly.

According to Sophos, the U.S. sent 15.6 percent of spam caught by Sophos worldwide from April to June of this year. Terry Zink, Microsoft program manager and anti-spam researcher, said in a blog post that 30.95 percent of the spam that Hotmail sees comes from the U.S.

To Sophos security analyst Graham Cluley, the numbers suggest that spam should be seen as a national security issue.

"So much attention is given by the-powers-that-be to the threat of cyberterrorists and rogue states launching attacks, but the fact is that it could be your sister-in-law Sandra who is helping the spammers without her knowledge, because her home PC is not properly defended," he said in a blog post titled, "America! Stop helping spam spread and clean up your computers!"

"And, of course, spam is not the only output from these compromised PCs. They can also be used to spread malware, steal identities and launch distributed denial-of-service attacks -- all without the knowledge of the computer owner who doesn't even realize that their computer is infected," he added.

Not everyone is so sure of Sophos and Microsoft's conclusions. Project Honey Pot, run by anti-spam firm Unspam Technologies, ranked the U.S. ninth in the world for spam sent over the past 30 days.

Based on data from what it said are more than 41 million spam traps, Project Honeypot placed Brazil at the top of the list, with 15.4 percent of all spam, and India second, with 7.4 percent of all spam in the past 30 days.

Based on Project Honeypot's all-time spam server rankings, the U.S. comes in third at 8 percent, behind China (11.5 percent) and Brazil (8.6 percent.)

The project did, however, place the U.S. top of the list for comment spam over the past 30 days, with an astonishing 25.5 percent of the total.