China and India are Spam ‘Dirty Dozen’ Countries, U.S. Still Tops the Charts

the-dirty-dozen-1To say that the United States, China and India are the world’s top spam producing countries is hardly a declaration worthy of Chicken Little. The U.S. – still the champion of all things spammy – has been at the top of the list for a while. And the champ has a comfortable lead, too. According to the latest statistics at Spamhaus, the U.S., one of the world’s top developed nations, has 3,166 live spam issues, with China coming in 2nd at 1,454.

So when Sophos Labs came out with its ‘Dirty Dozen’ list of the world’s 12 largest spam producing countries (for April to June, 2013), all it does is cement what we already know. And that’s by no means disrespect toward Sophos. What they do is invaluable, both in their research and information gathering as well as their anti-malware solutions. But it’s like a big ol’ ‘ho-hum’ when we see the list:

Rank Country % of World’s Spam
1 United States 13.8%
2 Belarus 11.7%
3 China 5.9%
4 Ukraine 5.5%
5 Taiwan 3.6%
6 India 3.6%
7 Spain 3.4%
8 Kazakhstan 3.3%
9 Argentina 3.1%
10 Italy 2.9%
11 Russia 2.6%
12 Germany 2.5%

New to the list since January to March are Ukraine (number 4), Kazakhstan (8), and Argentina (9); France (6), Peru (11), and South Korea (12) have dropped off the list.

Interestingly enough, Sophos also considered the issue of population versus spam and came up with a totally different set of results, with Belarus topping the list by a Minsk mile. Suddenly, the ‘big 3’ disappear from the list, with (in order) Kazakhstan, Uruguay, Taiwan, Ukraine, Luxembourg, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Chile, Argentina, Spain, and Singapore topping out the dirty dozen spammers in proportion to population.

Sophos also points out that the numbers are likely skewed by the fact that the stealthy spammer uses bots to hide his true location, so we need to take the issue of originating country with a grain of salt. Nonetheless, why do big, connected countries like the U.S., China, and India still have such a problem with unprotected computers, if that truly is the issue? The truth probably lies in the middle, with the expectation that these very large countries are at the top of the list because they are so very large.

It might be more interesting to ask why the U.S., one of the world’s top developed nations has such a resounding leg up on its counterparts. Is it just because (as Gordon Gecko pointed out) greed is good; or is something else at play in the land of Hollywood and Wall Street? After all, the U.S. has been getting medieval on spammers for quite some time now, and their CAN-SPAM act has been in place since 2003.

Then there are China and India. Massive nations with more than enough greed to generate some interest in polluting people’s inboxes, both countries have been on the spam radar (spamdar? radam? I don’t know) ever since spam was a whining little brat. It might be easy to imagine that with populations well in excess of a billion, the low moral character that spurns spam activity in both countries is a function of sheer numbers. That’s a reasonable assumption. If you’re standing among a thousand strangers in a room, there’s a solid chance that some of them would happily rob you blind before you get the chance to verify that your wallet’s still in your pocket. That’s just basic human nature. We’re not all good people, and like it or not, there are some bad, bad people out there.

So, if it’s no surprise to anyone that the U.S., China, and India are on the top of the list of the world’s most prodigious spammers, then you’re at least educated enough about the plight known as spam to realize that, as long as they remain there, we’re losing the unwinnable war. As oxymoronic as that may sound, the message, at least, should be clear. Let’s put it in context. A woman reading the Sunday morning paper in the living room shouts to her husband, “Honey! The U.S., China, and India are at the top of the spam list again!” To which the husband responds, “That’s nice, dear.”

It feels like nothing’s being done about it, and if that’s a naïve approach to a very serious matter, then heck yes, I’m naïve. Every frigging spam report that drops in our laps say roughly the same thing: that nothing has changed. And as long as we sort of yawn and say ‘ho-hum’ when we hear that these countries are the sources of the stuff that keeps us up at night, then we probably don’t deserve to win the war.

Written by Malcolm James


  1. Bernie · July 28, 2013

    Spamming has become more dynamic over the years. The level of complexity is what makes it even harder not only for the anti-spam programs but our very own laws to cope. How do you exactly deal with mass mail from legitimate companies? Well, they could just say sue them and send them to jail. But then, we’re not just talking about a few here. Instead, we have hundreds of thousands of them, even large companies. That, I think, is a major reason why the United States is way up there.

  2. Chuck · July 30, 2013

    The article is actually right. Population has a large influence in spam. But there’s also another component which is the ability to buy and frequency of Internet use. Countries such as India, China, and U.S. have a growing number of people buying stuff online, so definitely they are the best people to spam. The others I think have very lenient anti-spamming laws.

  3. Mars · July 30, 2013

    Agree with you, Bernie. Spamming has become somewhat like an art. It’s not just something that someone does during his spare time anymore; it has reached different levels. Its complexity may also be due to the fact that spammers are always trying out something new. So every time authorities come up with an anti-spam program, a new form of spam comes out and wreaks havoc online. So the cycle continues and we try to find new ways to fight spam again. Spam is constantly changing and developing, so much so that even countries like Germany and Russia are in the list.

  4. Tristan · August 31, 2013

    As a writer, I think I can see a great future in spamming. As what Mars mentioned, it’s becoming more of an art; scammers and spammers have become craftier by the day. The “job” would surely be a fresh challenge to both my intellect and creativity. But then again, I bet you can sense that I’m just being sarcastic here. I don’t support anything that’s unethical and illegal.

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