Singapore enters spam league

SINGAPORE - Singapore is not the biggest market in the world that spreads spam - that dubious honour goes to the United States.

But when spam volumes are adjusted for population, Singapore comes in at No. 12 in the second quarter of this year, and No. 2 in Asia, behind Taiwan.

Singapore was 10th in the first quarter of this year, based on data from security-software firm Sophos. Based just on spam volume, 0.31 per cent of the world's spam was relayed from Singapore during the second quarter of this year, putting it at 37th place out of 228 markets studied. The US takes top spot with 13.8 per cent.

A McAfee spokesman said that based on the firm's research, "we don't actually see Singapore as a place where spam would usually be spread from".

Mr Rob Forsyth, Sophos' Asia-Pacific director, said that for relaying spam, computers are taken over by a criminal who "allows you to use the computer, but uses it at the same time as a robot network to send out spam".

He said that all highly developed countries, including Singapore, "are good 'targets' for criminals", which would explain why the country ranks highly.

Sophos security evangelist Paul Ducklin said Singapore's high ranking could be due to its high connectivity, with the popularity of social networking, Wi-Fi in many areas, and an "always-on" attitude to connectivity.

A Symantec spokesman said that the firm has seen a significant increase in spam on social-media sites, including threats such as fake gift cards and survey scams.

But Sophos' findings do not mean Singapore is replete with cybercriminal activity, or that the spam originates from the country, said Mr Ducklin.

Still, he said the rankings suggest that markets in the top 12 "almost certainly" have a much-higher-than-average number of unprotected computers actively infected with malware.

tanjoce@sph.com.sg


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