A new list from Sophos shows that spam is far from dying, thanks largely to Asia:
While the U.S. still tops the chart, for the first time it accounts for less than a quarter of all spam relayed. (Compare this to more than 50% two years ago.) But that’s not the problem anymore. The problem is a rise in non-English spam “with the vast majority now being relayed by ‘zombie’ computers hijacked by Trojan horses, worms and viruses under the control of hackers.”
Much of this is coming from China and South Korea, which together accounts for 32% of the world’s spam. Add Taiwan’s 2.1% to that and Asia is the world’s biggest relayer of spam. But lumping them together doesn’t do justice to the rise of China as a spam relayer: in the past two years it was responsible for less than 10% of the world’s spam; this year that figure has more than doubled, much of that rise in the last few months.
Of course by using percentages Sophos is able to avoid actually quantifying the problem — how much spam are we actually talking about here, and is it getting bigger or smaller? — saying only that “the level of non-English language spam is continuing to increase”, without offering any figures. But there’s no question of the trend: Crackdowns on spam in countries like the U.S. is only contributing to this, as “zombie computers – responsible for relaying more than 60% of the world’s spam – can allow spammers to escape country-specific legislation, as they no longer have to be located in the same country as the spamming machines they operate.”