Security

Report: Americans dumber than a box of rocks about spam

When it comes to spam, we Americans are quick to point our fingers at Russia, China and eastern Europe as the regions responsible for the bulk of it. But a new report issued today found that Americans are largely to blame - not because we create it, but because we're too stupid to recognize that we're spreading it.

When it comes to spa, we Americans are quick to point our fingers at Russia, China and eastern Europe as the regions responsible for the bulk of it. But a new report issued today found that Americans are largely to blame - not because we create it, but because we're too stupid to recognize that we're spreading it.

OK, maybe the report, conducted by IT security and data protection firm Sophos, didn't use the word "stupid" to describe us but it might as well have. The report noted that, during the second quarter of 2009, Americans relayed more spam than any other country. Here's the quote that drives it all home, from Sophos senior technology consultant Graham Cluely:

Barack Obama's recent speech on cybersecurity emphasised the threat posed by overseas criminals and enemy states, but these figures prove that there is a significant problem in his own back yard. If America could clean up its compromised PCs it would be a considerable benefit to everyone around the world who uses the net. All web users need to properly defend their computers from attack, and pledge to never act upon spam messages.

Yes, folks, they're talking about you. And they've highlighted a new battle ground where we're enabling more spam to spread - social networking sites. Twitter, in particular, has become an area of concern because of the growing use of URL-shortening services such as TinyURL and bit.ly. When we click on those links, sent in a tweet from a complete stranger that we're following or a friend who re-tweeted it, we're taking just as much of a risk as we would if we clicked on a link in a get-rich-quick or meet-lovely-ladies spam message.

With that said, one of the things I like about using a third-party service like TweetDeck for my Twitter correspondences is that a click on the link doesn't automatically take me to that site. Instead, it shows me the short and long URLs first and gives me the choice of which to click. If the long address looks legit, that's where I click.

The spam problem isn't going away - but we can make a difference if we just use some common sense. I don't like the idea of the rest of the world mocking the U.S. either, but it looks like we had this one coming.

Also see: Spammers like shortcut URLs, too. Should Twitter be worried?
37 comments
OnSeeker
OnSeeker

I think that a good Spam filter can resolve the problem and I also think that nobody is dumb, just not well informed, or in in this case not well protected! I am using BitDefender and my online life is spamless and effortless because I don't have to customize everything and of course no phishing! So I'm great!

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

There are simply more of you and more of you can afford a PC. Certinly there are plenty of just click on it muppets in the UK.

Capt_Skippy
Capt_Skippy

OMG Stop clicking on every damn pop up and link you see!

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Quoting from the referenced report; I added the uppercase for emphasis: "During the second quarter of 2009, the USA continued to RELAY more spam than any other country ... In contrast, Russia, a former spam super-power, continues to fall down the ranks. Russia currently resides at ninth position in the chart, RELAYING a mere 3.2 percent of spam messages." The article, "USA to blame for one in six spam emails, Sophos reports", is mistitled. The US is to blame for one in six RELAYED spam emails. We're handing them off, but we're not the point of origin; a crucial difference. There's nothing ranking the countries of origin. Yes, we've got more twits allowing their systems to be hijacked, but I'd like to see numbers on where the e-mails are coming from. I'll bet Russia and China's numbers don't look so good on that chart. Since Sophos doesn't stand a chance of selling its products in those markets, it will pick and chose stats to target the markets it can reach. " '...these figures prove that there is a significant problem in his own back yard. If America could clean up its compromised PCs it would be a considerable benefit to everyone around the world who uses the net,' said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos." Valueless quote from someone who works for an anti-malware vendor.

Jaqui
Jaqui

post that it's not just Americans, but when you look at that graph and Canada doesn't even make the list, maybe I just know a lot of really stupid Canadians. :D

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

I'm under the impression it's in the throes of death.

maclovin
maclovin

...Ah yes, something most Americans all over still lack. Remember, these are the people that think "password", their name, husband's/wife's name, or dog's name are secure, while housing thousands of people's private information... So, now that new individuals are coming into the field that aren't so close-minded (not "business-minded", that's just another way of saying "close-minded), we can sort of push for change. The problem is, many, as I am, are younger. So, these "business-types" think of themselves as "all-knowing" just because they've "lived more/longer", or have more "experience". But, in all actuality, their experience is based upon a changing work environment...but for some reason, many are still stuck in the '60s, and fail to recognize these changes they have "experienced" in "all their years". If people had common sense, MS probably wouldn't be in business. They bank, and I mean BANK, on human's lack of sense. This kind of thing isn't going to require a REVOLUTION, it's going to require human EVOLUTION. And, let's face it, evolution ain't a quick process.

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