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Sophos Reveals Latest Spam-Relaying Countries 181

Posted by Hemos
from the spam-ham dept.
An anonymous reader writes "For the first time in more than two years, the United States has failed to make inroads into its spam-relaying problem. The U.S. remains stuck at the top of the chart and is the source of 23.2 percent of the world's spam. Its closest rivals are China and South Korea, although both of these nations have managed to reduce their statistics since Q1 2006. The vast majority of this spam is relayed by 'zombies,' also known as botnet computers."
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Sophos Reveals Latest Spam-Relaying Countries

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  • I'm not sure why they divide by country. Are they implying that the laws and regulations of these companies should be stricter? Is this some sort of international contest to see who can restrict the rights of its internet users the fastest? The fact is that these nations are just relaying the spam. They might not be the origin of the spam so it's not like targeting a nationality will help.

    Furthermore, these percentages don't appear to be normalized in any way. Does the United States contain more than 23% of the world's internet traffic? Probably. What about the sheer number of IPs assigned to citizens? Again, probably more than 23% of the world's total user population. Even if it isn't that high, it'd still show that countries like China are doing ok relative to the sheer number of users they have. I think this study only showed that spam is directly proportionate to internet usage. And nothing more.

    Logically, you would divide by source or company or--better yet--ISP. I think the penalties should come from the companies that make money providing the internet service to the sources of the spam. Even if it's a bot or open relay for spam, the ISP should investigate it and shut it down. I honestly wouldn't be surprised to see Cox & Comcast show up on that list as they are so unbelievably careless.

    I think laws against the internet service providers are in order to force this but it's difficult to track. That's why Sophos should publish names of internet service providers and drag them through the mud, I don't care about countries. And how about making the penalty for the ISP a bit tougher as in you get one warning about a particular user and then you're restricted from providing internet service?

    In the end, you have to ask yourself--do we really want to make this a responsibility of all governments? I think the answer is 'no' considering that they can always just open up some operation in another nation and find an ISP dying for cash. Then you have to chase them there.
    • I'm not sure why they divide by country. Are they implying that the laws and regulations of these companies should be stricter? Is this some sort of international contest to see who can restrict the rights of its internet users the fastest? The fact is that these nations are just relaying the spam. They might not be the origin of the spam so it's not like targeting a nationality will help.

      Once I saw some statistics that USA is the originator of most of the spam.

    • by yourOneManArmy (986080) on Monday July 24, 2006 @12:19PM (#15770316)
      You're assuming media statistics are actually logical; they're designed to give 'convincing and unbiased' proof of the source's opinion.
    • It would be interesting to see this arranaged by the operating system of the infected computer. Given the frequency of infections by OS and the frequency of the OS on the internet, I can use Bayes theorem to deermine how suceptable a computer is to become a Zombie spammer. Im just guessing that this would not be flattering number for Microsoft, espicially the older versions of Windows. This sort of information could be used by Microsoft to encourage upgrades and by everyone else to recommend migrating fr
      • It would be interesting to see this arranaged by the operating system of the infected computer.

        And what exactly would this prove? If 95 out of every 100 computers on the planet run Windows, wouldn't you logically expect there to be more Windows 'bots than any other? This kind of breakdown would be no less silly than the current by-country ranking system, as the numbers it produces proves nothing more than huge portion of Internet users reside in America.

        Now, if you wanted to show normalized numbers, such
    • by klaun (236494) on Monday July 24, 2006 @12:56PM (#15770591)

      You don't seem to have much evidence for your assertion that ISPs are reluctant to deal with bots. I know that both ISPs your mention have aggressive programs to battle spam that is generated or relayed by users. It is really a very tough problem to deal with.

      How do you identify a bot infected computer? What do you do to a customer with a bot infected computer that he is probably not aware of? What preventative steps can you take that will not interfere with legitimate customer traffic?

      While technical savvy folks can generally think of solutions to problems, they often neglect the issue of scalability... every solution has to work in an environment that may deal with a million emails a second! Customers get very irate when they are disconnected, sandboxed, and refused further service until they run (free) anti-virus software on their computer. Customer care organizations within an ISP are generally very resistant to any program that will involve turning off customer service or restricting it, because that causes tremendous expense for them in terms of customer calls. ("What does this web page mean? How do I get rid of it?") It is not just about engineering a solution but also deploying it holistically within a company that has issues other than technology.

      Other solutions that make managing the problem easier are also very expensive and slow to implement across a customer base of millions. SMTP AUTH deployments are tremendously expensive in terms of customer care, customer education, and engineering efforts. Everything is complicated by scale and working within the confines of a business with other requirements apart from just technical ones.

      ISPs spend millions on efforts to combat spam. The anti-spam industry is expected to hit $1.7 billion in revenues by 2008. If you have the answer to all these problems, start a company and sell it. You will be very successful.

      • by FireFury03 (653718) <slashdot.nexusuk@org> on Monday July 24, 2006 @02:13PM (#15771190) Homepage
        Customers get very irate when they are disconnected, sandboxed, and refused further service until they run (free) anti-virus software on their computer.

        In other news, drivers get very irate when they aren't allowed to drive their unsafe car on the road until it's been fixed. However, banning people with unsafe cars makes everyone else safer, so is a Good Thing. Same with infected computers. If a computer is actively attacking other systems then drop it's connection ASAP - this is good for two reasons:

        1. It stops the infected system from doing any more damage to any other systems/people (this may be relaying spam, DDoSing someone, trying to infect other systems with a worm, running a phishing site, etc).
        2. If someone loses their whole connection every time they get infected they might actually start giving a damn about their system's security.

        that causes tremendous expense for them in terms of customer calls.

        If all the ISPs started taking these measures then it would surely *reduce* the number of support calls since the number of infected systems would be reduced. Sure, there'll be a short term peak in the number of support calls but the long term picture is much better. Sadly, most businesses these days only seem to care about the short term bottom-line.

      • You don't seem to have much evidence for your assertion that ISPs are reluctant to deal with bots.

        Maybe grandparent doesn't, but I do. I work for an ISP, and my company is - unfortunately - extremely lazy when it comes to bots. As the resident security guru I'm working on changing that, but it's an uphill battle.

        How do you identify a bot infected computer?

        Traffic analysis, if you want to be sure. But there are other signs that are obvious, such as low but constant IRC traffic at all hours of day. In the cas
    • In the FA, they explained that the theory is Zombie PCs that are relaying spam, and suggest that the solution is tighter individual security on PCs in the U.S.. The originators are broken out by continent - North America is not at the top.
    • Well I'm here in Canada, and we're apparently not even in the top-10 for spam, so there's a good chance that the local political/corporate environment affects the internet. Not that I've heard of us having big anti-spam laws here (and I do remember hearing about some big spammers living down east), but perhaps the ISP's are more vigilant.

      I know that at one point I had been messing around with my proxy settings and that allowed it to be abused as an open relay. Consequently, there were about 1-2 days where
    • You asked very good questions, so I have an answer for some of them. You noted, "Furthermore, these percentages don't appear to be normalized in any way." AKA the "Is It Good, Or Is It Whack?" question.

      I normalized them (roughly). I found the number of Internet users per country at http://www.clickz.com/stats/sectors/geographics/ar ticle.php/5911_151151 [clickz.com] and then calculated what that was as a percentage of the world total.

      On the left is the percentages of spam from the article; on the right is the percenta
    • Maybe "SPAM Per Capita with Broadband Connectivity" would be a more meaningful statistic.

      It would take some legal craftwork to do make this workable, but credit card issuers could help tackle the SPAM problem by creating special-purpose honeypot card numbers that could not be collected on. The up front documentation requirements would be severe on a "defraud the fraudsters" approach like this, lest the system become a social malady of its own. In fact, the sting would probably have to be executed by law enf
    • You asked very good questions, so I have an answer for some of them. You noted, "Furthermore, these percentages don't appear to be normalized in any way." AKA the "Is It Good, Or Is It Whack?" question.

      I normalized them (roughly). I found the number of Internet users per country at http://www.clickz.com/stats/sectors/geographics/a r ticle.php/5911_151151 [clickz.com] and then calculated what that was as a percentage of the world total. I had a nice table made up, but tables aren't /.'s allowed HTML tags.

      On the S
    • SMTP senders are one obvious thing to measure (either by number of addresses or by message volume), though of course relaying obscures the real sources.
      URLs for responses are another - for a while those were largely in China, but now zombies are starting to provide those services.
      Following the money is really the fun part, but that one's hard, and of course that's easy for a spammer to obfuscate (e.g. open a small corporation in a tax-haven country to receive the loot, and launder the profits by buying t
    • Even if it's a bot or open relay for spam, the ISP should investigate it and shut it down. I honestly wouldn't be surprised to see Cox & Comcast show up on that list as they are so unbelievably careless.

      FYI - Cox blocks outbound port 25 which largely prevents bots on compromised machines. Culprits in my hosts.allow file: dsl-verizon.net, cable.mindspring.com, adsl.proxad.net and fbx.proax.net, us.xo.net, cable.rogers.net, t-dialin.net, btopenworld.com, t-ipconnect.de, adsl.tpnet.pl, res.rr.com, and

    • I'm not sure why they divide by country. Are they implying that the laws and regulations of these companies should be stricter? Is this some sort of international contest to see who can restrict the rights of its internet users the fastest?

      "Follow the money" :-)
      This is a press release of an AV company. It's essentially advertisement and says "buy more of our stuff, you need it!".

      Furthermore, these percentages don't appear to be normalized in any way

      Correct. However, the numbers once again allow me to smile
  • Deep Throat Knows (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ackthpt (218170) * on Monday July 24, 2006 @12:22PM (#15770340) Homepage Journal

    "Follow the money"

    What's so hard here? The US has pushed for having banks and financial service companies to be more open with governments on who is doing what with transactions.

    There's always the content, too. Just look in the emails and they have telephone numbers, web sites, the various means of seeing what these scumbags have to offer and how to contact them.

    Educating the public is failing. Why? How many public service ads have you seen advising people how to protect themselves from being scammed, preventing identity theft, etc.? I've seen none. I see private ads OF the voice overs of the big dude with the girl's voice, where his identity has been stolen, I think it was for a paper shreader of all things.

    Sophos must be with the terrorists as they are not proclaiming victory in the war on terror. Enough has been made of the suspicion (has anything been proved?) that terrorists raise funds this way. I wouldn't put it past them, but I also wouldn't put it past some russian teenagers with limited career potential in Putin's New And Improved USSR.

    • Just look in the emails and they have telephone numbers, web sites, the various means of seeing what these scumbags have to offer and how to contact them.
      No they don't, not anymore,

      Sophos estimates that 15 percent of all spam emails are now pump-and-dump scams, compared to just 0.8 percent in January 2005. These scams are email campaigns designed to boost the value of a company's stock in order for spammers to make a quick profit. Many of these spam messages contain images rather than traditional text.

      and t

      • Sophos estimates that 15 percent of all spam emails are now pump-and-dump scams

        and that's been my personal experience in the inbox as well; I haven't gotten a farmapseudical spam in months! Now there is no money to follow, half of my spam is giffed pump-and-dump stock scamms and the other half is gibberish.

        Amazing how their 15% translates into 50% for you. While you were typing that up, didn't a little voice in the back of your mind tap gently at your conscience and suggest the there's a bit of a diff

      • I had a look at a few of these pump-and-dump scams last week. In the time between my receiving the email and checking the stock price, it had dropped by a good 20-50% for each one. It looks like the dump part is working, but the pump part is a bit broken...
    • How many public service ads have you seen advising people how to protect themselves from being scammed, preventing identity theft, etc.?

      Interestingly, I saw an advert featuring McGruff the Crime Dog [``Take a bite out of crime!''] detailing the dangers of identity theft. Sure, it was a little cutesy. For instance, one part showed a man taking a picture of a guy's credit card at the airport while the dog shouted ``Look! He's taking a picture of that man's credit card using his camera phone!'' However it did

    • Enough has been made of the suspicion (has anything been proved?) that terrorists raise funds this way.

      Far from being proved, I'd argue that I have yet to even see a convincing argument.

      Terrorists usually work fairly low-tech, they try to not leave paper trails, and all the major terror organisations already have funding - either from wealthy arab families (Bin Laden is comfortably in the "never-have-to-work" category), from donations (Hisbollah, who are very popular with the people because they also build
  • No wonder (Score:5, Funny)

    by traveller.ct (958378) on Monday July 24, 2006 @12:25PM (#15770364)
    No wonder the tubes are jammed.
  • ...is how many of the zombie systems are actually deliberatly set up by the owner. Not some accidental "gone to the wrong web site" setup, but some "I'm gonna make some bucks serving spam" and then claiming they didn't know they were infected.
    • ...is how many of the zombie systems are actually deliberatly set up by the owner. Not some accidental "gone to the wrong web site" setup, but some "I'm gonna make some bucks serving spam" and then claiming they didn't know they were infected.

      Probably very few. If it is your own system you have to pay for the bandwidth. Or for even less money you can rent time on a botnet that runs on two thousand exploited Windows boxes. There are even Web based interfaces that will walk you through sending your spam. P

  • by Osrin (599427) * on Monday July 24, 2006 @12:29PM (#15770390) Homepage
    ... if you just opened up port 25 on EVERY machine and put some dummy SMTP recieve code behind it that did nothing else other than accept mail and then discard it, could we make it 500 million times harded for spammers to find an active and working open relay?
    • by jd (1658) <.moc.oohay. .ta. .kapimi.> on Monday July 24, 2006 @01:25PM (#15770838) Homepage Journal
      TCP is based on packet acknowledgement and it is very doubtful that spammers have thought to check their software for deadlocks or timeouts. Instead of dumping the data, just have the connection hang after it is fully established, or send deliberately malformed acknowledgement packets. The idea here is to try and crash the zombie by either running it out of resources or giving it replies it can't handle.


      Alternatively, if the spammer/zombie computer has port 25 open itself, have a netfilter rule that rewrites the destination address to that of the sender, increases the TTL, and sends the packets back in duplicate. Again, this is a resource-draining scheme. If it's an open relay, it'll get the spam and resend it. I believe the hop count for SMTP is something like 30 and each packet will go two ways along the wire, so it'll take 2^31 as much bandwidth overall, if a sufficiently large number of users set up this kind of loopback. Companies that simply don't care if their machines are zombies will suddenly notice a degradation of their networks but any packet monitoring they do will show all of the packets to have the IP addresses of their machines for both source and destination. At least some will zombie detox to save their sanity.

      • i think you are looking for this http://www.spamcannibal.org/ [spamcannibal.org]
      • Companies that simply don't care if their machines are zombies will suddenly notice a degradation of their networks but any packet monitoring they do will show all of the packets to have the IP addresses of their machines for both source and destination.

        Most routers are set by default or can be configured to drop packets arriving on the external port of the gateway where the IP address of the source is set to an address which is internal to the private network behind the gateway. These types of packets,
      • It's been thought of a long time ago, but spammers make a first connection, send a single test message, and if it doesn't get there (as you drop all messages), they won't use it. Only if the test has been successful do they drop their load, so to speak.
      • I believe the technique you describe is known as a "tarpit"... some SMTP servers implement it.
        • Teergrube is the original German Tarpit system. It does run correct SMTP, but vvvv....eeeee......rrrr......yyyyy.....s...llll.. . ooooooo....wwwww....llll....yyyyy ; it doesn't take much to keep a TCP connection busy, and it doesn't take much to keep a correct SMTP implementation busy (if the spammer is using the zombie's own mail server, though sometimes the spammer is using customer spamware SMTP senders that don't pay enough attention to responses for traps to work.)

          Tarpits are a fine thing to do with

      • You want to google for "teergrubing" or "teergrube".
    • Its called a "honeynet" or "teergrube"...they work pretty well, although you're using publicly routable IPs in order to set up your spamtraps. Set one up as your secondary MX...
  • Imagine... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fragmentate (908035) * <jdspilled AT gmail DOT com> on Monday July 24, 2006 @12:30PM (#15770403) Journal

    ...if all ISPs simultaneously switched SMTP to another port... At least the existing "bugs" (as in malicious code) would break immediately.

    Sadly, any trick (even as drastic as I've suggested) would only be temporary. People still click on random .exe files (and scripts) as fast as they come in. Any Dilbert, South Park, or Pokemon screensaver will be clicked on my some nitwit. I see the forum posts about how certain screensavers don't work. Well, of course they don't -- they're not screensavers, they're little servers designed to relay spam.

    Given the vast numbers of idiots, and amateurs online here in the U.S., of course we're in the lead. (I have two teens -- both of them have clicked on evil .exe's -- firing off malicious code warnings on the Windows machines).

    Educating the gajillion newly techno-blessed is the only way to get this under control.

    How hard is it to understand, "If a stranger gives you an apple -- DON'T EAT IT!"

  • by supabeast! (84658) on Monday July 24, 2006 @12:32PM (#15770419)
    At first I was looking at the numbers and wondering if Americans just have so many more Windows machines than the rest of the big relays out there, but once the numbers get into the single digits (everything after the US and China) I quickly realized that most of the people in those nations are probably using the same OS - Windows - as people in the US. So is it simply that the US comes out on top because we have so damned many computers - as opposed to other nations where they're sometimes uncommon in households and people use internet cafes? Or is it not a PCs-per-capita issue, but an issue of people in the USA simply being to stupid/lazy/etc. to secure their Windows machines? If the former is the case, we're in for some nasty spam as PCs per capita increase, and there are ever more systems begging to be infected. If the latter case is true, what will it take to finally get Windows users to start securing their Windows boxes?
    • Well, even though he mostly wrote it for British consumption at the time, I think that Charles Dickens pretty much nailed it on the head when he said that Ignorance and Greed were the watchwords of the future.

      And why not stop and look at your comment and others: other than *ownership* of computers, the other major common factor here is Windows. It certainly isn't as though Microsoft isn't complicit in this. Look at the security holes and exploits and everything else that can be laid at their doorstep over

    • So is it simply that the US comes out on top because we have so damned many computers - as opposed to other nations where they're sometimes uncommon in households and people use internet cafes?

      ISTR I saw some statistics a while ago suggesting that the UK had a far higher DSL/cable connections to people ratio than most other countries (I think even more than the US). Yet the UK is pretty low down on the list of spammers. Admittedly the UK population is lower than the US population though - they really need
  • I for one... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Siberwulf (921893) on Monday July 24, 2006 @12:47PM (#15770526)
    As impractical as it might be, I, being a software developer think the best way to go about removing this crap isn't on the receiving end. It won't be fixed by filters. It won't be fixed by blockers. The way to fix it is through putting some sort of tax, fee, whatever you might have it, on email getting sent.

    Before you flip out and throw the "OMGOOSES MY FREEDOM" argument around, answer me this:

    If you were being sent text messages to your cellphone, and being charged ten cents per text message, how long would you tolerate that?

    The reason nothing is being done to combat this is due to the fact that when people spend hours cleaning off spam, they aren't even thinkinga bout the "Time = Money" equation. If they were, I think they'd be pretty hot about getting the senders punished.
    • As impractical as it might be, I, being a software developer think the best way to go about removing this crap isn't on the receiving end. It won't be fixed by filters. It won't be fixed by blockers. The way to fix it is through putting some sort of tax, fee, whatever you might have it, on email getting sent.

      Before you flip out and throw the "OMGOOSES MY FREEDOM" argument around, answer me this:

      If you were being sent text messages to your cellphone, and being charged ten cents per text message, how long wo

    • How are you going to decide who sent the email? Headers? A charge at the point of origin, which is likely a bot whose owner has no clue about this stuff?

      I will also note that nominal fees for postal mail does not prevent people from sending me junk mail.

      The problem is the ISPs who do nothing to clean up their networks, or who engage in pink contracts, and so on.
    • Insert standard "You're proposing the following [x] well-known solutions, and they won't work for the following [x] well-known reasons" checklist here....

      If you're proposing charging for email, you need to think about who's charging whom for doing what - if you get it wrong, then it's doomed to fail, but if you identify the economic actors and actions correctly, then people may or may not use your system but at least they won't hate you.

      The fundamental transaction is that the reader is charging the sende

  • Spam Sources (Score:5, Informative)

    by AaronW (33736) on Monday July 24, 2006 @12:48PM (#15770534) Homepage
    My experience is that around 60-75% of the spam I receive comes from China. On my home mail server I finally broke down and started blocking the worst offending subnets and the amount of spam I received dropped dramatically. There is a RBL for China, cn.blackhole.us, or a combination of China and Korea (cn-kr.blackhole.us), though these are no longer listed and will likely disappear soon.

    I also use several other RBLs which have helped a lot.

    I also decided to add the worst offending subnets in China as rules for my firewall to block. The worst offending subnet is 221.208.208.x where my firewall reports an almost constant barrage of IM spam, and from what I've read, this subnet has been a problem for years.

    For your own blocking, the following script will get all the subnets used by China (or any other country you're interested in, just change $ctry):

    #!/usr/bin/perl $ctry = shift || 'cn'; $_ = `wget -O - http://www.apnic.net/apnic-bin/ipv4-by-country.pl? country=$ctry [apnic.net]`; print join "\n", /([0-9\.]+\/[0-9]+)/g;

    At work, where I cannot do this, most of my spam is also received from China.

    Out of the rest of the spam I receive, the US is actually pretty far down on the list of sources, though still much higher than places like the UK, Germany or France. The rest seems to come from places like Poland, Romania and Estonia.
  • America was found to have the highest number of zombies and bots per capita....
  • by Dadoo (899435)
    I haven't been keeping up on my anti-spam measures, lately, so I'm not sure if this has been considered, yet. Wouldn't it be possible to simply add a DNS record that allows a mail server to verify that the machine trying to send it mail is authorized to do so, for that domain?

    A machine that supports it could ask the sending domain "Is this machine allowed to send email on your behalf?" The sending domain could simply answer "yes" or "no". That would immediately eliminate all the zombies, for those people wh
    • by vux984 (928602) on Monday July 24, 2006 @01:14PM (#15770740)
      It already exists, its called an SPF record. Its been around for years now and 95% of domains don't have one.

      There is also nothing stopping the spammers from using SPF, and they do. In fact, in many surveys the spammers are registering domains and using SPF *more* than legitimate users are. SPF does mitigate some spoofing issues, but that's about it.

      On its own its proven worthless. As part of more cohesive anti-spam strategy it might prove to have some value.
  • Its articles like these that lament people's basic misunderstanding of statistics. They use percentage of spam sent by countries in order to try to prove that spam is not being reduced in the United States. The problem is that simply relaying a percentage of total spam does not prove or disprove this point. It simply shows whether the US is changing more or less in proportion to other countries. Did the total number of spam messages go up or down? What about the total number of bot nets? The reality i
  • Whether it is a zombie, which is not supposed to have an SMTP server at all, or a legitimate mail-server fooled into relaying spam to you, my milter [virtual-estates.net] will black-list it for a few hours after your spam-detectors issue their first verdict against the relay.

    Unlike with most blacklists, though, the damage from a false-positive is merely a delayed, rather than rejected (or, worse, dropped) message...

    • I think you mean a grey (or gray, if you are American) list.
      • Not quite. The grey-list would require confirmation. My milter simply issues temporary rejections from an earlier suspected server.

        A legitimate-but-fooled server may be cleaned-up by the time my automatic block expire. Taken-over zombies never retry anyway.

        • That is exactly what grey-listing does. The theory is that zombies never bother to retry. OpenBSD's spamd does this, for example, and there are options for a number of MTAs.
          • Oh, I see, what you are talking about... In my milter's case, however, it is not the unfamiliarity of an IP-address, but an earlier suspicion against it, that would place a relay onto the grey-list. "Presumed innocent until suspected guilty", so to speak, rather than the "presumed guilty" approach of other grey-lists.

            The actual implementation is very light, requires no database-server, and is manageable with touch, ls, chmod, and rm :-)

            • This is also supported by OpenBSD's spamd. There is a small program called relaydb which reads addresses from a file and creates the pf rules to use them. On my system, Spamassassin is one of the inputs; any IP that has sent me something that looks like spam gets added to the list.

              Because pf gets the packets before they are shown to userspace, they never even reach Sendmail. They are redirected to spamd, which is designed to use the minimum of resources and replies very slowly (about 10 minutes to send

  • If the ISP's implemented a system whereby port 25 was closed and the average John Q. Public had to send mail through it's servers, or something else like GMail, then the vast majority of zombie spam would disappear overnight.

    Then each customer could be limited to __ number of emails each day (perhaps 20). Beyond that they would have to log in and manually re-enable their account for another 20. People regularly exceeding their amount could apply for a higher threshhold.

    A little inconvenient? Yes. More i
    • Not going to work. Some people legitimately need to run an email server. That's why I use Speakeasy, because I have complete freedom. That said, pushing the freedom all the way to the end user also pushes the onus for security to the end user, but that's where it should be anyway. I'm not sacrificing freedom for "security". (sound familiar? :))
      • by DigitalRaptor (815681) on Monday July 24, 2006 @02:45PM (#15771413) Homepage
        Who says it has to be one or the other?

        Your mom probably doesn't need to run an email server. Neither does 99% of other ISP users. The far less than 1% (of which I'm included) that need specific ports opened up can do so by working with the ISP.

        That would eliminate 99% of zombie spam right off the bat, without significantly affecting anyone. It may take you 5 minutes on the phone with tech support, but it closes a HUGE whole that is actively exploited by the spammers.

        Bye-bye spam. It also takes a way a LOT of the motivation for creating zombie machines, so bye-bye much of the spyware and viruses (not all, but probably a noticeable amount).

        So we aren't sacrificing freedom for security. We're tolerating a 5 minute phone call for 1% of users so that everyone can enjoy the internet far, far more.

        Well worth it, if you ask me. Absolutely nothing is lost. A whole lot is gained.

        • Your mom probably doesn't need to run an email server. Neither does 99% of other ISP users. The far less than 1% (of which I'm included) that need specific ports opened up can do so by working with the ISP.

          As long as "working with..." means that you can go to the ISP's user interface page, authenticate, click a few buttons, and open the appropriate port immediately. Having to talk to a support rep who barely understands English, being asked 50 times to give a good reason for your desire to open the por

          • Open markets should take care of that. People go where the service is best and where they are happiest. Voting with your money is one of the strongest votes you can cast.

            If Charter didn't give me good enough service, I'd switch to DSL or some other solution. There are some who only have the choice of one broadband provider, but that's the way it is with any service offered.

            For the tiny amount of home users who have a legitimate reason to be running an email server (which is often against their TOS anyway
    • I doubt 1 in twenty people even know that it's technicaly possible to run their own SMTP server, maybe one in 40 would know a valid reason for doing so, so I really doubt many would be inconvenienced, by forcing them to work the way they believe it's all ready working.
      • by DigitalRaptor (815681) on Monday July 24, 2006 @03:16PM (#15771620) Homepage
        The internet is very analogous to the highway system in most countries. Commercial drivers create increased risk to all drivers on the road, and thus require training and registration for the safety and benefit of everyone involved, including each other.

        The commercial drivers could (and may) complain that it's unfair that they have to go through the hassle of getting licensed and registered, after all, each thinks he is a perfect driver and poses no risk whatsoever. But I think most people would agree regulation of commercial drivers is a good thing and everyone benefits.

        Likewise, those (myself included) wanting to do more than normal with the information super highway would likely complain if we had to take an extra step before being able to do what we want on the internet, such as running a web server or email server. But again, I think the benefits outweight the inconvenience 100 times over. I could call my ISP and be added to their open ports list in 5 minutes (ONCE), but I easily spend 10 minutes A DAY on spam, and often more.

        Mind you, this is only on dial up and broadband accounts. Most T1 lines, etc, used for business wouldn't need this requirement as they already have administrators that keep things secure and zombies to a minimum, and RBL's already deal with most of the rest.

    • More inconvenient than receiving 400 spams a day?

      I receive maybe one or two spams per day on an e-mail address that's *public* (the contact address for my company)! Good spam filtering software shitcans 95% of the bad stuff. The rest takes about two seconds to delete per day.

      -b.

      • How nice for you.

        But I'm webmaster for dozens of sites, all with various public addresses. Just because spam isn't a problem for you, doesn't mean it isn't a problem for most people.

        A good indication of whether or not spam is still an issue (in general) is how often it's discussed, which is regularly on Slashdot, and frequently in many various news mediums and even daily conversation. Google returns 573,000,000 results for "spam", and the Ad Words column is full of ads for anti-spam solutions. Apparently
  • According to the Computer Industry Almanac [c-i-a.com] the U.S. uses 25% of the world's PCs. While I know our broadband penetration is not has high as other countries, we sure have a lot of hardware. Another thing to look at would be total messages in/out versus total messages claimed as spam. Sophos doesn't give us that piece of information. At least last year, Andrei Serjantov and Richard Clayton had done some work along those very lines in a paper found here [infosecon.net]. I don't know if they've updated it.
  • My ISP has a pretty good filter and they hold what is blocked for a week. When I access my "help mail" file everything is identified by country. Two months ago close to two thirds was from the US and it all got forwarded to the FTC. Today that is down to about 40% from the US and I still forward everything to the FTC. They do file many charges against spammers every month and the US amount is dropping.

    I suspect that if things were traced all the way through that many of the US and offshore groups are relate
    • If the top five "spam cartels" were taken down I think we would see a 75% or more drop in SPAM worldwide.
      Until "spam cartels" number 6 - 10 pick up the slack.
      • If the top five "spam cartels" were taken down I think we would see a 75% or more drop in SPAM worldwide.

        Until "spam cartels" number 6 - 10 pick up the slack.


        Exactly. Again, the problem boils down to not the spammers, but the people paying the spammers. They'll still be around, so if you get rid of the spammers, the companies advertising via spam are going to find other sources.

      • If the top 5 are taken out that will remove 75% of the SPAM now. It will take some time for that slack to be taken up. Plus the shutting down of the "cartels" should involve jail time and confiscation of hardware. This might intimidate a few of the wannabees that will try to move up. We would get a break in the quantity of SPAM for several years and that time will allow law enforcement to get better at detecting the source.
  • worrying? (Score:3, Informative)

    by pe1chl (90186) on Monday July 24, 2006 @01:13PM (#15770734)
    "It's worrying to see so many pump-and-dump emails - often with embedded graphics included - being spammed out to the general public," added Cluley. "The people that act upon these emails aren't skilled investors, and don't realise that purchasing the shares is likely to reap no reward, benefiting only the spammers, while creating a financial rollercoaster for the organisation in question."

    Why is this worrying, in the sense that it needs to be mentioned explictly?
    Most of the general public is not medically educated either, yet we have received spam about all sorts of pills for a long time.
    And many do not know what 419 is, yet lots of those mails are sent as spam.
    Lots of the spam I receive is in far-east languages which most western citizens are not skilled to read.

    SPAM in itself is worrying, but there is nothing especially worrying about pump-and-dump.
  • I blame Bill Gates (Score:2, Interesting)

    by FlynnMP3 (33498)
    Who designed or allow to be designed all the software that is used for spam, virus and other technodangerous programs? Sure, all the unwitting unsuspecting people out there that treat their computer as a black box should be ashamed of themselves. To use a windows computer safely these days requires a strong predilection to research and remembering security bulletins and knowing specifically how a computer does things. Which in of itself requires knowing about security models, social engineering, UI desi
    • Don't get her a Mac! Next thing you know she'll be complaining about how she can't run all the nifty attachments people keep sending her...
  • None of it would exist at all if the END USER stopped buying viagra every time they get an offer in their inbox..

    However, I would applaud a spamming company that slowly removed non-responsive email addresses from their spam lists and tailored their spam only to those few users who respond
  • by Midnight Thunder (17205) on Monday July 24, 2006 @01:46PM (#15771006) Homepage Journal
    My provider prevents me from sending to SMTP ports outside of my domain, for better or for worse. This got me thinking:
        - would it be possible to selectivley block ports?
        - provide an ISP based UI, where you could unblock ports based on your account?
        - if both above are doable, what over head would this provide?
        - maybe provide different default configurations based on the type of user you are (technophobe, newbie, average home user, business user, power user, etc)
        - how well would such a solution go down?

    Sure you could ask everyone to install the equivalent of zone alarms, but this is not always going to happen.
    • provide an ISP based UI, where you could unblock ports based on your account?

      Yep, that's exactly what I was thinking. Just no extra charge for unblocking ports, please?! To avoid automated scripts that ask for the user's name and password and then log in automatically, protect it with a captcha or audio prompt.

      -b.

    • - provide an ISP based UI, where you could unblock ports based on your account?

      that was one of my ideas for a new product or company: a firewall that sits AT the ISP side of things and lets the user create USEFUL filters to block things BEFORE they hit -his- wire.

      once they leave the ISP and are on your WAN connection, filtering them isn't going to get you the stolen bandwidth back. but if you can configure firewall filters (useful ones, based on what the user defines, with good flexibility) at the ISP
  • by fdiskne1 (219834) on Monday July 24, 2006 @02:14PM (#15771198)
    I see a number of people asking the question "But how many computers are there per country?" I found the numbers at:

    http://www.c-i-a.com/pr0904.htm [c-i-a.com]

    Here's what they show. I've added the % of spam coming from each country as the last entry in each line:

    Top 15 Countries in Internet Usage
    Internet Users (#X1000) Users% Spam%
    1. U.S. 185,550 19.86 23.2% of spam
    2. China 99,800 10.68 20.0%
    3. Japan 78,050 8.35 1.6%
    4. Germany 41,880 4.48 2.5%
    5. India 36,970 3.96 N/A
    6. UK 33,110 3.54 1.8%
    7. South Korea 31,670 3.39 7.5%
    8. Italy 25,530 2.73 3.0%
    9. France 25,470 2.73 5.2%
    10. Brazil 22,320 2.39 3.1%
    11. Russia 21,230 2.27 N/A
    12. Canada 20,450 2.19 N/A
    13. Mexico 13,880 1.49 N/A
    14. Spain 13,440 1.44 4.8%
    15. Australia 13,010 1.39 N/A
    Top 15 Countries 662,360 70.88
    Worldwide Total 934,480 100

    It looks like the USA's numbers are right about on track with most other countries with China way out in front as to percent of the spam problem compared to percent of Internet connected computers. What's this? France has twice the percent of spams relaying through their country compared to the percent of Internet users? For shame!
  • by tota (139982) on Monday July 24, 2006 @02:21PM (#15771254) Homepage
    Last time I posted, I somehow offended a few americans who mistakenly took my attack on climate-change nay-sayers as an attack on America and americans as whole: it resulted in DoS on my sites and a joe-job campaign against my public mail servers.

    Polute the world, polute our mailboxes, and be damned anyone who dares question whether this is moral or not!

    Funny thing is: my spam filters are now much improved! Thanks!
  • by phorm (591458) on Monday July 24, 2006 @02:32PM (#15771328) Journal
    I would like to see a per-capita or per-connection statistic for this. I notice that Canada isn't up there on that list, but they do have a lesser population than China/USA (though probably more than many of the others), and alternately a pretty high ratio of connectivity per household/business.

    How about a graph of "# of known connections in country vs amount of spam). If country X is only contributing 2% of the spam, but they've got 2% of the overall population and only 25% of that is connected... it shows a little more how the local control on such things may be a bit... lax.
  • by Retired Replicant (668463) on Monday July 24, 2006 @05:33PM (#15772581)
    This report doesn't take into account each country's percentage of the total world internet user population. If you take that into account, China and S. Korea are far worse than the US on a per-capita internet-user basis:
    • USA: 23.2% of world spam, 20.1% of world internet users
    • China: 20.0% of world spam, 10.9% of world internet users
    • S. Korea: 7.9% of world spam, 3.3% of world internet users
    So adjusted for internet user population, the US puts out 23.2/20.1 = 1.15, or 15% more spam than expected. China puts out 20.0/10.9 = 1.83, or 83% more spam than expected. South Korea puts out 7.9/3.3 = 2.39, or 139% more spam than expected. I got the internet population stats from: http://www.internetworldstats.com/top20.htm [internetworldstats.com]
  • Perl + Geo::IP 200601-200607

    US 28.1%
    CN 10.0%
    UA 8.5%
    KR 5.2%
    DE 4.7%
    FR 3.5%
    PL 3.5%
    ES 3.0%
    IN 2.8%
    BR 2.6%
    IT 2.6%
    RU 2.4%
    JP 1.9%
    GB 1.8%
    CA 1.6%
    TR 1.4%
    NL 1.3%
    MX 1.

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