The sleaziest thing about spam isn’t just that people are bombarded with crass penis-enlargement ads and identity-theft scams. Even more unseemly is that many of us are spammers, and don’t know it.
Spammers typically steal our computing resources by renting time on networks of infected PCs controlled by cyber criminals. These compromised machines are then used to pump out spam in the middle of the night when the owners are asleep, or even when they’re awake and unaware why their computers are moving so slow.
The U.S. has typically had the highest number of infected computers used in spamming, but now there’s a new claim to the crown. According to research published Monday by Sophos, India has overtaken the U.S. as the top offender for sending junk e-mail. About one in 10 spam e-mails now emerges from India, the security firm reported.
The finding shows that more Indians’ computers are getting infected as an increasing number come online. There is a silver lining: Spammers aren’t as effective as they once were, as their messages aren’t getting through as often. Sophos researchers say the overall “throughput” of e-mail spam has fallen over the last year as Internet providers improve their filters.
But there’s a twist. As e-mail spam has decreased, spammers have turned to social networks instead, poisoning people’s profiles with garbage links. The lesson perhaps is to be careful what you wish for when you curse away the garbage in your inbox. Those inappropriately intimate come-ons could end up on your Facebook Wall or in your Twitter feed for all your friends to see.
Top Spam-Relaying Countries (January to March 2012)
- India — 9.3%
- U.S. — 8.3%
- South Korea — 5.7%
- Indonesia, Russia (tied) — 5.0%
- Italy — 4.9%
- Brazil — 4.3%
- Poland — 3.9%
- Pakistan — 3.3%
- Vietnam — 3.2%
- Taiwan — 2.9%
- Peru — 2.5%
- Other — 41.7%