U.S. Sending More Than Half of All Spam

While the flood of spam has increased sharply during the last six

months, a new survey also shows that slightly more than half of it

worldwide is coming out of the U.S.

In January of this year, there were nearly 350,000 unique spam outbreaks

every day, according to a report from Commtouch Software Ltd, an

anti-spam company based in Mountain View, Calif. As of last month,

however, that number had jumped to 500,000.

And according to Commtouch’s survey, which country has the most spam

offenders?

The United States, sending out 55.7 percent of all spam moving around

the world. South Korea came in a far second, sending out 10.2 percent,

and China ranked third with 6.6 percent.

Michael Osterman, founder and president of Black Diamond, Wa.-based

Osterman Research, Inc., says the U.S. is a major source of spam because

of the great number of high-speed connections here.

”So much spam is being generated by people who don’t even know they’re

spammers,” says Osterman. ”They don’t know that their computers have

been compromised and they’re being used as zombies sending out spam all

over the world.”

As for the amount of spam that is flooding corporate networks and

personal inboxes, that he is surprised about.

”It is surprising. It’s surprising that it’s as low as it is,” he

adds. ”The wide deployment of spam filters is causing spammers to send

out even more spam simply to get some through.”

A report released last month by MessageLabs, Inc., an email management

and security company based in New York, showed that nine out of 10

emails in the U.S. are now spam. Globally, 76 percent of all emails are

spam.

And Osterman says the problem is only going to get worse.

”In the next year to a year and a half, spam will account for 98

percent of all email,” he says. ”That’s being pessimistic some would

say. The optimistic forecast is that it will only get to 95 percent.

”But it’s not all doom and gloom,” Osterman adds. ”You have to look

at the effectiveness of spam filters… If you’re an enterprise user,

the spam problem is probably about over if your organization has

implemented a strong spam filter. It’s like a missile shield over your

company.”

But erecting that missile shield and paying IT workers to run it is a

problem for IT organizations that is only getting worse, according to

Mark Levitt, vice president for collaborative computing at Framingham,

Ma.-based IDC.

”There’s still the same issue of wasted time in terms of users opening

messages with misleading subject lines,” says Levitt. ”And there are

wasted IT resources trying to block this spam, the waste of storage and

bandwidth, and the money spent fighting spam.”

Levitt says the positive side of the Commtouch study is the section

showing that the amount of pornographic spam is down.

The Commtouch study shows that offers for drugs top the list, accounting

for 29.5 percent of all spam. Mortgage/refinancing comes in second with

9.7 percent, and organ enlargement comes in third with 7 percent.

Pornography is in ninth place with 3.1 percent.

”It’s a step in the right direction,” says Levitt. ”It’s less

offensive.”

But Osterman says not to expect the amount of pornography to continue

dropping.

”This could be a short-term anomaly anyhow,” he notes. ”There are

very few large spammers. If a few of the big players have a change in

strategy and turn to different offerings, it could change the mix

dramatically. Over the long term, I think the percentage of pornographic

spam is going to increase. Selling physical goods that have to be

shipped complicates things. But you can be in any part of the world and

easily sell access to a porn Web site.”

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