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The United States tops the list when it comes to spam relaying countries, covering the second quarter of 2013, a new survey said.

As the U.S. retains the top spot among spam-relaying countries, Belarus made a big jump into second place. And three new countries enter the top twelve –Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Argentina, while three other countries exit — France, Peru and South Korea, according to the report from security firm Sophos.

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With more than a billion people and an increasing demand for Internet access in both countries, it’s not surprising to see China and India on the list. With more than 300 million people and the lion’s share of the world’s Internet connectivity, it’s also no shock the U.S. leads outright.

Although the top 12 tells us which country’s computers end up delivering spam, it doesn’t identify the location of the spammers. That’s because most spam sends out indirectly these days. The type of spam sent out includes:
• Phishing emails: These try to lure you into entering passwords into mock-ups of a real site such as your bank or your webmail account.
• Malware links: These urge you to click links that put you directly in harm’s way by taking your browser to hacked websites.
• Malware deliveries: These use false pretences, such as fake invoices, to trick you into opening infected attachments.
• Identity theft: These invite you to reply with personally identifiable information, often by claiming to offer work from home opportunities.
• Investment scams: These talk up investment plans that are at best unregulated and at worst completely fraudulent.
• Advance fee fraud: These promise wealth or romance, but there are all sorts of fees, bribes and payments to hand over first.

Cyber Security

This survey “tells us how spam gets relayed from the crooks to their potential victims,” said Paul Ducklin, Sophos security evangelist. “Even if you’re the most law-abiding citizen of the most law-abiding country in the world, you might be helping to project your own country into the Dirty Dozen if you don’t take security seriously on your own computer. It may sound corny, but security really does begin at home.”

There are a few simple precautions that can help enormously, Ducklin said. These include “timely security patching, an up-to-date anti-virus and a healthy skepticism about unwanted attachments and ‘too good to be true’ offers. By taking these steps, you’ll not only protect yourself, but also help to protect everyone else at the same time.”

Click here for more information on Sophos’ Naked Security site.

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