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Developing world, developing problems

Richard Bowman | April 24, 2009
Fertile ground for the distribution of viruses, spam and malware

In 2009, phishing attacks will focus on exploiting vulnerable DNS domains and websites while any website that requires a personal account to be created online will continue to be targeted and the CAPTCHA failure rate will continue to increase accordingly. MessageLabs experts also predict that in 2009 the emerging markets will be more heavily targeted with spam delivered in the local language.

Growth in foreign language spam, especially Asian character spam, will increase by 100 per cent from current levels (five per cent) to around 10 per cent. In 2009, the major botnets disrupted by the takedown of Intercage and McColo at the end of 2008 are expected to find replacement hosting services in countries such as Russia, Brazil or China.

Virus source and targets

Preliminary data from Skeptic, MessageLabs predictive proprietary technology, shown in the table below reveals that India and China are leading sources of viruses.

 

Rank
Country of OriginPercentage of
viruses detected
1
USA
27.73 per cent
2
Poland
13.11 per cent
3
UK
5.59 per cent
4
Uruguay
5.57 per cent
5
Italy
4.45 per cent
6
Japan
3.52 per cent
7
India
3.45 per cent
8
Spain
3.05 per cent
9
Germany
3.04 per cent
10
Australia
2.60 per cent
11
Korea
2.38 per cent
12
China
2.16 per cent

In addition to being a major source of viruses, India is also a major target. Our recent data (March 2009) sees India as the third most-spammed country in the world, with 86.8 per cent of e-mails containing spam. And while rankings fluctuate from month to month, it has been in the top four throughout 2008:

Rank
Country of recipient
Percentage of e-mails containing viruses

1

Switzerland

1.45 per cent

2

France

1.34 per cent

3

Hong Kong

1.10 per cent

4

India

1.09 per cent

5

UK

1.00 per cent

When we publish data that says that developing economies are the source of a lot of spam, people get concerned because they think there is hacker activity there. That is a concern, but the bigger threat is the rise of consumer IT and the lack of protection of it. If you get some new green fields on the Internet, theres a period when security is lax and viruses run wild. The situation is similar to the one we faced here a few years ago. However, the big difference is that exploits are much more sophisticated today so an unprotected PC is much more vulnerable.

 

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