The Spam Diaries

News and musings about the fight against spam.
 by Edward Falk

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Who's the worst source of spam? It's a horse race now

It used to be that you could always count on the U.S. to be the worst source of spam in the world, with maybe China or Brazil coming in a distant second.

But things seem to be changing. In early December, a number of articles were published in eSecurity Planet and other sources about a report from Cisco that Brazil had finally overtaken the U.S. as the spam leader. The U.S. had a peak of 8.3 trillion spam messages (more than one thousand for every man, woman, and child on the planet) in 2008. But thanks to U.S. ISPs finally getting at least a little bit serious about the spam problem, as in the takedown of McColo last year, the number declined to a mere 6.6 trillion in 2009.

Meanwhile, Brazil managed to climb to 7.7 trillion, edging out the U.S. as the spam king of the planet.

But wait, there's more. According to a Network Box article in 2009, Vietnam had become the world spam leader, producing 10.9% of all spam worldwide, with Brazil in second place at 8.3%. CircleId has also picked up the story, although Business Week has Vietnam in 16th place at 1.7% of all spam.

So who's really in first place? Perhaps Network Box and Cisco are counting in different ways (Network Box seems to be counting spam separately from phishing and viruses, while perhaps Cisco is combining them. And where is China in all this? And what can the U.S. do to regain its preeminent position?

There's one more point to ponder: Vietnam, China, and Brazil may be the places where most of the spam is delivered from, but I think if you follow the trails (and follow the money), you'll find that it all leads back to the U.S.


Anonymous Simon Heron said...


I am an Internet Security Analyst at Network Box and just wanted to comment a bit on the questions raised here. We gather our stats from our customers who are spread all around the World. As a managed service we see not just email but also firewall probes and intrusion attacks so our stats cover a multiplicity of attack vectors.

We do treat Spam, Viruses and Phishing separately, they serve different purposes so it is interesting to track them separately. So that will be one reason why are stats differ. We do take stats directly from our customers rather than from honey pots so the measuring techniques may be different.

The thing to remember is that these tables change month to month. There is some correlation with the number of illegal copies of Windows being installed which is very likely the reason that Brazil and Vietnam are currently on the rise as sources of spam as these Windows installations cannot be updated and hence become infected. However, I would agree, that if you were to trace back to the originators, a number of them are located in the US however, there is increasing evidence of Spammers rising in countries where the laws are easier going on the Spammers.

Simon Heron

2:26 AM  

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