US Leads the World in Spam

One interesting fact that didn’t make it into this month’s newsletter article on “The Secret Life of Spam” is that the United States leads the world in the overall volume of spam produced. And by a huge margin, too: according to security site Sophos, 24% of all spam generated this spring. That’s nearly a quarter! France and China, the runners-up, come in at less than 7% each. The full results can be accessed here.

The results may be surprising because we tend to think of spam originating in Russia or Nigeria, or the actual place where the criminals who generate it live. But spam is a world-wide problem, and one would think the bad guys generally know enough to not spoil their own nests.

Instead, the countries which actually generate the most spam are those where the most computers are infected with malware. The US merits the top billing for volume not so much due to poor security practices, but to our large and highly-connected population.

When the overall amount is divided by population, the US doesn’t do so badly. In a per-person comparison, we come up merely twelfth, near the bottom with Bulgaria and Belarus being tops at 2.7 and 1.9 times the American rate.

However, the US is still spewing a lot of crap messages, and if you’re infected, you’re part of the problem. Once your machine becomes part of a botnet, it’s essentially a zombie out of your control. As with any disease, any kind of infection weakens the entire system. Spam it make it more far more likely that your personal information will be stolen and your privacy violated. Plus, you endanger everyone else.

It’s not unusual for someone unwittingly broadcasting spam to get SWCP placed on a blacklist. This means that other providers will block, not just spam, but any email coming from our servers until we deal with the problem. So we’re rather proactive about spam.  We keep watch to filter out any new viruses and phishing attempts that we detect, and keep a lookout for unusual usage rates that might indicate an active infection.

Security is not something done once and forgotten, and it can’t be managed by SWCP alone. Security can only be maintained with good habits like using spam filters (customers login here), keeping virus filters current, and performing regular back-ups. You must remember to be careful downloading and opening attachments, and it doesn’t hurt to be suspicious about your email, either.

It’s a lot to ask, and SWCP is doing what we can to make it easier, with user-programmable spam filters, customer alerts, articles, and of course, answering your concerns as they happen.  Our help desk is there to answer questions, so if you get a message you’re not sure about, feel free to let us know before clicking on any links. You’re not only helping yourself, but all the rest of us. Thanks.

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