Beating China, India turns world’s top spam source


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That email offer for a bulk discount on Viagra or for a million dollars from a Nigerian benefactor clogging your inbox may actually have emanated pretty close to home.

A series of recent reports by Internet security companies found India has become the top spam-producing nation.

After tracking over 3 million spam messages for the week ending June 13, ICSA Labs found the maximum number, 424,224 — or 14 per cent — originated from India. The second biggest source was Russia with 11.5 per cent. While analysts have questioned the fact that China does not figure in that Top 10 list, there is consensus that India is, at the very least, among the top three nations spewing spam.

Similarly, according to the statistics featured by Project Honey Pot, the top country where spam servers are located is India, accounting for 16.9 per cent, with Brazil a distant second at 8.7 per cent. The share of countries where spam has traditionally been known to originate from, like China, has dropped, though that country still remains at Number One in Project Honey Pot’s all time list.

ICSA Labs is a US-based security firm with an anti-computer virus and spam product testing and certification facility. Project Honey Pot is a network that works with US law enforcement agencies, identifying spammers and spambots.

These reports have been corroborated by experts in the field. Dave Rand, TrendMicro’s Chief Technology Officer for Content Security, said, “It’s a fact, there are more and more compromised computers in India.”

Rand pointed out within just the last six months, his firm had detected nearly “100,000 new infected computers on one network alone.” He explained the “bad guys” or spammers tried to compromise computers with vulnerabilities and India had become a major target because “there’s not a lot of effective defence at the consumer level.”

While the lack of safeguards is part of the attraction, broadband becoming more widespread also has appeal for spammers. “As people get hi-speed connectivity, their ability to get infected gets amplified,” Rand said.

India did not even figure in TrendMicro top 10 countries by spam volume for the year 2008 but jumped to number five by the third quarter of 2009.

The “bad guys” are looking for new terrain since countries like China and the United States have ramped up security.