U.S. Bows to Europe as New Spam King

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The United States has lost its position as the leading source of spam inthe world, with Europe taking over the dubious lead.

The shift in positions stems from a dramatic increase in spam coming outof Europe, particularly Western European countries, such as Germany,France, the United Kingdom and Spain, according to new research fromCommtouch Software Ltd., an email security company based in MountainView, Calif. During this period, spam levels in the U.S. have heldsteady.

If each country is counted singularly, however, the U.S. still is thesource of more spam than any other one country. Europe, as a whole, nowoutpaces America.

Commtouch analysts report that on an average day last month, 967,437separate outbreaks of spam were distributed. That's up 94 percent fromthe same time last year.

''These trends contradict prevalent assumptions -- that spam is primarily sent from developing areas,'' says Oren Drori, director of productmarketing at Commtouch. ''In fact, Commtouch analysis shows that thewealthy countries of Western Europe are the source of more spam thandeveloping Eastern European counterparts. The same trend can also be seenin the Asia Pacific region. Richer countries simply spam more.''

Last month, Commtouch analysts detected spam being sent from 172countries. Europe accounted for 24.7 percent of total spam, the bulk of it (21.85 percent) coming from European Union countries. Japan and Koreafollowed closely, together accounting for 24.24 percent of all spam beingsent out. Only 22.8 percent of spam originated in the United States.

Spam Content

The largest chunk of spam last month fell into the pharmaceuticalcategory.

Commtouch reports that 35.5 percent of spam last month was related toselling drugs, with tranquilizers, anti-anxiety drugs and anorexicsgaining popularity.

''Judging from February trends, one might conclude that the world is getting more anxious, and that what sells best over the net are cut-rate prescription drugs,'' says Drori. ''A few months ago, you could be surethat Viagra would capture the lion's share of this segment, but today itcomes in second after the tranquilizer/anti-anxiety category.''

After pharmaceuticals comes shopping, software sales, pornography andmortgage/refinancing.

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