A Weblog About Topics and Issues Discussed in the Book Spam Kings by Brian McWilliams

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October 14, 2005

Don't blame US for spam problem

Like the Internet, spam doesn't really follow national boundaries. A typical piece of junk email could be sent from a computer in China by a spammer in Michigan advertising a web site in Argentina selling drugs produced in India with credit-card processing handled in Canada.spamland.jpg

So what's the point of the "Dirty Dozen" press release put out by Sophos this week (and widely parroted by the tech media)?

OK, it's somewhat interesting that, according to Sophos, spammers around the world still rely on networks in America (often by hijacking them) more than any other nation. It's also kind of interesting that the percentage of spam from America networks is going down.

The rather content-light Sophos "report" corroborates data from Spamhaus, which says that the majority of the world's biggest spammers live in the USA. What's more, four of the most spam-friendly ISPs are American, says Spamhaus.

But make no mistake, spam is an international issue. Consider the list of ISPs happily doing business with spammer numero uno, American Alan Ralsky. His business partners include network providers in Argentina, Mexico, South Korea, and China.

It's tempting to see Ralsky as part of a trend of American spammers moving offshore to cash-hungry developing nations. But it's not quite that simple. Schlund, a top German ISP, is selling Internet services to at least one American spam king, while a provider in Finland is hosting another big American bulker.

Meanwhile, Ivo Ottavio Reali Camargo, one of Brazil's biggest spam operations, is doing business with Virginia-based ISP XO.

Over in Australia, a gang of porn spammers is buying support services from Sweden. And one big bulker in India is hijacking PCs in Taiwan.

Now, combine this phenomenon with data on the demand side of spam, which shows Internet users in Brazil, France, the UK, and Germany all more likely than USA netizens to buy something via spam.

Seems there are lots of dirty hands in the worldwide spam trade. I guess there's one quote in the Sophos press release I agree with: "Everyone has a part to play in the fight against spam."

Posted by brian at October 14, 2005 9:25 AM


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