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.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Sorry, nobody in their right mind clicks on a shortened URL any more, not without tools to see where it actually goes. Since this site isn't equipped to reveal the actual page the URL points to, there probably won't be many here viewing it.

Jaqui
Jaqui

since I don't have plugins enabled I clicked it. some Rick Astley tune on youtube. no idea which one, since no media player plugin. and I didn't even let that malware site youtube finish loading.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

but a so-called 'Rick Roll' in the middle of this thread is ironically appropriate. Note to self: this is the third time this week you've used 'ironic' in a post. Knock it off.

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.

maclovin
maclovin

There is a degree of "selling" going on here. If people were smart enough, they wouldn't go out and ruin their machines by paying for AV protection. That, again falls under common sense, and a slight bit of research.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I notice the original study reports raw numbers, not relayers as a percentage of total computer users in a country. I suspect that's why you didn't find your stupid countrymen making the list; there aren't enough total Canadian computer users to bump some of those other countries with fewer users but more idjits. (Q: do Quebecois relayers count against Canada's total, or France's?) Of course the US relays more spam than most other countries; we have more computers than most other countries. And more potential customers for Sophos, of course.

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

doesn't change that Americans are dumber than a box of rocks when it comes to spam. To me, it's a pretty fine line between originator, and relayer.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

But I think there's a major difference between originator and relayer. One is actively acting maliciously; the other is an ignorant dupe. There's a level of responsibility that isn't being accepted by many internet users, but in my book the relayers aren't as responsible for spam as originators. If no one creates it, there's nothing to relay. And I still think these numbers are presented by a biased anti-malware company in such a way as to drive sales, and that's the only purpose of the original report.

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

Brenton Keegan
Brenton Keegan

Truth be told, there are people of various levels of intellect/education in every country. There are stupid people all over the world, not just in America. I find it humorous when non-Americans classify all Americans as "fat and stupid". Isn't it a sign of ignorance to make judgments on people based on race/nationality?

bdskp
bdskp

we are all stupid. :)

Jaqui
Jaqui

stupid people are everywhere. what I have to wonder is did the numbers consider population size and internet access ratios to come up with the results. a small population with high access ratio would need to be scored higher than a large population with low access ratio. since the US is a fairly large population, with a pretty high access ratio, tweaked numbers could significantly alter the results.

jck
jck

on if the assertion is true. :^0 Actually, medical studies have shown that in the 1960s it was rare for doctors to have to treat an American male for morbid obesity. Now, most Americans are considered obese, and a staggering number are considered morbidly obese where you have a body mass index of 40.0?49.9 kg/m^2. It's scary to hear the truth sometimes.

Shellbot
Shellbot

but same as there are various levels of intellect around the world, there are also various ignorant people in other countries as well.. I mean..ererybody thinks i can speak french because i'm canadian.. < shakes head > its just not so... have a happy day :)

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

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

NotSoChiGuy
NotSoChiGuy

...are the two least common things found today.

Shellbot
Shellbot

and I think thats a global thing. Courtesy: Now days its all me, me, me... Its gotten really bad over here since I moved here.. it was so refreshing in KY..everyone was so nice and friendly.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

'Sales Tax Holiday' is dumber. Here people rush out to stand in line at the register just because the sales tax has been suspended on 'back to school' gear for a weekend. Seven lousy percent off and they're dancing in the aisles.

Shellbot
Shellbot

however..I see 40-50 year olds acting as such..surely they were of the generation that got thier @sses whooped now and then?? Gawd knows I did when I was a kid..taught me a bit of respect. But ya, the younger generations are the worst offenders.. I see the way some of my aquantinces raise thier kids and i really have to bite my tongue..perfect little angels that can do no wrong .. ugghhh..when i get older i'm going to be one of those grumpy old people whining about "the kids these days".. ooops..maybe i've already hit that stage :0

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

they didn't get their asses spanked enough when they were kids, if at all. Never grew out of brat phase, cuz they weren't forced out.

Shellbot
Shellbot

heard about that one. that's an extreme case allright..but everyday i see more sublime cases and i just have to wonder what drives people to be like that.. sure we all have a side to us that maybe gets impatient with others, or whatever..but what makes those people go to the extreme? Is it lack of impulse control?

NotSoChiGuy
NotSoChiGuy

Ostensibly, people are out shopping for the holiday season. However, very little, if any, holiday cheer is observed. Just a sickening sight, all in all. Just go ask the poor Walmart employee that got trampled to death by idiots looking to buy a $5 piece of Chinocrap tech for $100 as opposed to the typically inflated price of $175. ARGH!!! X-(

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.

.Martin.
.Martin.

having 'password' as my password isn't secure??? :D

Shellbot
Shellbot

it is..but for the utmost in security..I'd leave it blank. Imagine the poor sucker sitting there for hours attempting to enter your password and all along its blank..haha ]:)

JamesRL
JamesRL

I'm done with CSI XXXX, for example, never watched much Law and Order etc. I did watch the new drama "Southland" but it had a plot that moved forward in an arc. I'm looking forward to the first new Doctor Who in years (for us in Canada). We saw the end of Season 4 some time ago, and the "Next Doctor" episode, but we are behind on the specials. Also watching Torchwood "Children of Earth" miniseries. James

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I like Hugh, and it looks like he's having a good time with the character. But I can only watch so many 'Obscure Disease of the Week' shows before I overload. I don't watch 'gritty' either: police procedurals, emergency room dramas, etc. I have enough problems without vicariously experiencing those of others. Except 'Monk'.

Shellbot
Shellbot

pretty much the same as every other peice of mind junk on the box then.. :) I gave up on TV a while back..a bit of the news, a bit of Discovery or Nat Geo.. I do admit to watching South Park though.. TV is generally in the off position, or on digital radio station.

JamesRL
JamesRL

And I think Hugh Laurie is a brilliant actor. I just found them all becoming the same episode. House does something wrong, his friends give him a hard time, they have a tough case and House either solves it or inspires the others to solve it. James

Shellbot
Shellbot

never watched that show.. everyone says its good..but to me its just yet another program in a sea of TV that I find that I *can* live without :)

OnTheRopes
OnTheRopes

The team was trying to get into a patient's notebook by trying various passwords when House suggested just leaving it blank and hitting 'Ok' or whatever. Worked!

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