India Becomes World's Top Spammer
If you've got a junk email folder full of spam, there's nearly a 10 percent chance it came from a computer in India, the world's new top spam producer.
India claimed the unwanted crown from the U.S. in the security firm Sophos' most recent "Dirty Dozen" report of the top spamming countries between January and March. Rounding out the infamous top five are South Korea, which accounts for 8.3 percent of spam, and Indonesia and Russia, both of which distribute 5 percent of the spam clogging up inboxes.
Trailing Russia are Italy (4.9 percent ), Brazil (4.3 percent), Poland (3.9 percent), Pakistan (3.3 percent), Vietnam (3.2 percent), Taiwan (2.9 percent) and Peru (2.5 percent).
According to Sophos' chief technical officer Graham Cluley, the computers in these high-spamming countries might be sending out their junk messages without the complicity of the computers' actual owners.
"The vast majority of spam comes from home computers that have been compromised by hackers, and commandeered into a botnet," Cluley explained.
Botnets, short for "robot networks," function like automated zombie armies; infected with a malicious piece of software that puts them under the control of a remote operator, they carry out the orders of the command-and-control server — including sending mass amounts of spam emails — all without the computer owner's knowledge.
Cluley said total spam output has actually decreased since the same time period last year. He credited this decline to cybercriminals switching up their approach; they are crafting more targeted email scams, and taking advantage of the massive popularity of social networks like Facebook and, more recently, Pinterest, to do the scam-spreading work for them.
Fortunately, whatever country you're in, you can download anti-virus software that can help prevent these spam-spewing armies from enlisting your computer to carry out their evil deeds.