US continues to top malware league table

The US continues to top the global malware league table as the most prevalent source of spam and viruses, according to the latest threat statistics research.

The country has held this unwanted title throughout this year and, based on July's figures in today's report from managed security company Network Box, this trend looks set to continue in the immediate future.

Although criminal internet activity is increasingly globalised and distributed, the research suggests the tide of spam coming out of the US reflects where hackers are finding systems most vulnerable to attack.

Simon Heron, Network Box internet security analyst, said that in 2004, between 50 and 60 per cent of spam was coming from the US. "The US still has a huge number of consumer PCs that are compromised and forming part of botnets," he added.

"However, with the huge take up of broadband in Russian, Europe and China, it is likely that these geographical areas will catch up with the USA and probably overtake it," Heron said. "Less mature consumer markets tend to be less savvy when it comes to computer protection and hence will be more open to infection."

In terms of the actual junk emails being sent, the security firm's research revealed that spammers are rejecting more sophisticated techniques, like image-based spam and file attachments, in favour of the traditional method of simply including a URL in spam messages to dupe users into clicking through to infected web pages.

Encouragingly, the proportion of phishing attacks dropped in July to 57 per cent, down from 69 per cent in June.

Similarly, security firm Websense only yesterday found that, where nearly half of all data-stealing attacks are conducted over the web, 57 per cent of data stolen online is sent to the US.

The Websense report also found 77 per cent of all emails in circulation during the first six months of this year contained links to spam sites or malicious websites, up 18 per cent over the previous six-month period.

When it came to intrusions, the Network Box research put Korea once again at the top of the global chart. The country was accountable for more than a quarter (26.5 per cent) of all intrusions in July, representing a negligible drop of (0.3 per cent) on last month's figure. But again, here the US came only second, as the origin of 14.9 per cent of intrusions.

Miya Knights

A 25-year veteran enterprise technology expert, Miya Knights applies her deep understanding of technology gained through her journalism career to both her role as a consultant and as director at Retail Technology Magazine, which she helped shape over the past 17 years. Miya was educated at Oxford University, earning a master’s degree in English.

Her role as a journalist has seen her write for many of the leading technology publishers in the UK such as ITPro, TechWeekEurope, CIO UK, Computer Weekly, and also a number of national newspapers including The Times, Independent, and Financial Times.