Botnet Infections Make India World's Spam Capital

Dennis Faas's picture

More spam emails come from India than any other country, according to a pair of new reports from separate, reputable sources.

SophosLabs has issued a report saying that 9.3 per cent of all spam messages transmitted in the first quarter of 2012 were relayed through India before arriving in people's inboxes. The firm lists the United States in second place with 8.3 per cent of spam, and South Korea in third at 5.7 per cent. (Source:

In a separate report on the same subject covering the same time period, security firm Trend Micro also put India in first place, but attributing 20 per cent of global spam emails to that country. Following India on this list is Indonesia at 13 per cent and South Korea at 12 per cent. (Source:

The difference between the two reports' results may stem from their use of slightly different methods to identify the 'spammiest' countries. SophosLabs measured the last country a message passed through, while Trend Micro attempted to figure out the country where a message originated.

Blame the Naive Users?

In both reports, the statistics don't necessarily suggest that the Indian people are more likely to send spam, or even that the gangs originating the spam are based in that country.

Instead, experts tend to think most of the incidents behind the spam statistics involve people who have had their computers hijacked by viruses and forcefully roped into "botnets" of infected machines.

One estimate is that 80 per cent of all spam emails are routed through such networks of hijacked computers, making it harder to trace those actually responsible for the offensive messages.

India's sudden rise in the rankings has likely resulted from large numbers of people there getting online access for the first time. Such users tend to be inexperienced regarding online security, and more vulnerable to:

  • Following bogus links
  • Installing suspicious files
  • Generally not knowing standard computer security guidelines.

Social Networks, Smartphones Face Growing Threats

Both of the reports also identified two other trends in global online security:

  • It appears social networks like Facebook are falling prey to spammers, which target their messaging systems.
  • Android-based smartphones are another favored target, because the system's open source environment provides opportunities for virus creators.
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