Sophos Reveals Latest 'Dirty Dozen' Spam Relaying Countries



    BOSTON, April 11 /CNW/ -- Sophos, a world leader in IT security and
control, has published its latest report on the top 12 spam relaying countries
during the first quarter of 2007.
    Experts at SophosLabs(TM) scanned all of the spam messages received in
the company's global network of spam traps and have revealed that yet again,
the U.S. relayed considerably more spam than other nations, producing just
less than one-fifth (19.8%) of the world's spam.  Surprisingly however, Sophos
notes the unexpected ascendancy of Poland in the dirty dozen - with the
country now lying in third place - as well as a first-time appearance for
India in the chart.  The U.K., which was in 10th place during Q1 2006, has
moved out of the dirty dozen to 13th place, accounting for 2.2% of all spam
relayed.
    According to Sophos, the overall volume of spam increased about 4.2%
during Q1 2007, when compared to the same period in 2006.



    
    The top 12 spam relaying countries are as follows:
    January to March 2007

    1.   United States                     19.8%
    2.   China (including Hong Kong)        7.5%
    3.   Poland                             7.4%
    4.   South Korea                        7.0%
    5.   Italy                              5.0%
    6.   France                             4.1%
    7.   Germany                            3.7%
    8.   Spain                              3.5%
    9.   Brazil                             3.1%
    10.  Russia                              3.0%
    11.  India                               2.8%
    12.  Taiwan                              2.5%
         Other                              30.6%
    

    "Although the U.S. continues its reign over the dirty dozen, it has
reduced its output in the past 12 months," said Ron O'Brien, senior security
analyst at Boston-based Sophos. "It's likely that computer users in the U.S.
are growing wiser and securing their computers more thoroughly."
    Between January and March 2006, Poland was responsible for just 3.8% of
spam-relaying, almost half of its current percentage.  Poland crashed the
dirty dozen this year, taking the 3rd slot.  The fact that its population, and
undoubtedly its number of computers, is much lower than the likes of Russia,
India, China and the U.S. suggests that Polish users need to take a close look
at the security holes on their computers.

    
    Pump-and-Dump Spreads to Europe
    
    In March 2007, Sophos identified the first pump-and-dump stock scam
preying upon a company outside of the U.S., emphasizing how successful the
technique is proving to be for cybercriminals worldwide.
    Emails encouraging investment in Stonebridge Resources Exploration Ltd,
which was first listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange on March 1, 2007,
circulated for several days.  This caused the stock price to inflate
substantially, while spammers sold their shares before it crashed.
    Pump-and-dump scam emails deploy a number of tactics designed to evade
conventional anti-spam filters, such as using embedded images or 'spamglish' -
a mixture of random English words.  Earlier in the same month, the U.S.
Securities and Exchange Commission suspended trading of 35 companies that were
the subject of pump-and-dump campaigns in a bid to thwart the spammers' plans
and protect investors.

    
    Mobile Phone Spam on the Rise
    
    In the first quarter of 2007, there were two high-profile cases of SMS
spamming to mobile phones, both of which resulted in legal action taken
against the perpetrators.  In January, Sophos reported on a Florida couple
being sued for sending five million spam messages advertising timeshares to
mobile phones, while the following month, network operator Verizon Wireless
won an injunction against a company that sent almost 100,000 spam messages to
its customers.
    "Mobile spamming represents a new method for crooked marketers - many
people are used to ignoring unsolicited email spam, but they don't necessarily
expect it to turn up on their mobile phones," said O'Brien.  "Users who
receive spam on their mobile phones should call or email their network
providers immediately.  Although this type of spamming is on the rise, it only
represents a small problem compared to email spam."

    
    SPAM RELAYED BY CONTINENT
    
    Fuelled by the growth in foreign language spam targeted at European
computer users, along with China's sudden drop in spam-relaying, Europe has
now surpassed Asia as the highest spam-relaying continent, responsible for
more than one-third (35.0%) of the world's spam.
    Furthermore, while the U.S. leads the individual country list, North
America as a whole has managed to reduce its output and now relays
considerably less than Europe.



    
    The breakdown of spam relaying by continent is as follows:
    January to March 2007

    1. Europe                      35.1%
    2. Asia                        33.4%
    3. North America               22.9%
    4. South America                6.6%
    5. Africa                       1.4%
    6. Oceania                      0.6%
    7. Antarctica                   0.0%
    

    Sophos recommends that computer users ensure they keep their security
software up-to-date, as well as use a properly configured firewall and install
the latest operating system security patches.  Businesses must also look to
implement a best practice policy regarding email account usage.
    For more information on 'Best practice advice for minimizing exposure to
spam', please visit: http://www.sophos.com/security/best-practice/.

    
    Graphics available at:
   
http://www.sophos.com/pressoffice/news/articles/2007/04/dirtydozapr07.html.

    About Sophos
    
    Sophos is a world leader in IT security and control.  Sophos offers
complete protection and control to business, education and government
organizations - defending against known and unknown malware, spyware,
intrusions, unwanted applications, spam, policy abuse and uncontrolled network
access (NAC).  Sophos's reliably engineered, easy-to-operate products protect
more than 100 million users in more than 150 countries.  Through over 20
years' experience and a global network of threat analysis centers, the company
responds rapidly to emerging threats and achieves the highest levels of
customer satisfaction in the industry.  Sophos is a global company with
headquarters in Boston, MA, and Oxford, UK.  For more information on Sophos,
visit http://www.sophos.com.

    
    For More Information Contact:
    Heather Ailara                        Jennifer Torode
    Racepoint Group                       Sophos
    (781) 487-4650                        (781)-494-5885
    hailara@racepointgroup.com            jennifer.torode@sophos.com

    




For further information:

For further information: Heather Ailara of Racepoint Group for Sophos, 
+1-781-487-4650, hailara@racepointgroup.com; or Jennifer Torode of Sophos, 
+1-781-494-5885, jennifer.torode@sophos.com Web Site: http://www.sophos.com/

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