Study: Five countries send 99 percent of spam

A half-yearly analysis shows the United States is the source of more than half of all spam.

CNET News staff
Offers of drugs, particularly Viagra, accounted for about one-third of global spam messages sent in the first half of 2004, according to a study by Commtouch, a company that sells antispam products.

Commtouch, which says it analyzed hundreds of millions of unsolicited e-mails, said about 55 percent of spam messages originated in the United States, while slightly more than 73 percent of them referred recipients to Web sites hosted in China. China, South Korea, the United States, Russia and Brazil host more than 99 percent of all Web sites mentioned in spam, according to Commtouch.

Pitches for drugs and medicines made up about 30 percent of spam e-mails. Mortgage/refinancing and "organ enlargement" ranked second and third with 9 percent and 7 percent respectively.

The adoption in the United States of a federal antispam law, last year's Can-Spam act, has done little to deter spammers, Commtouch found. The number of unique spam outbreaks per day shot up to 500,000 by the end of June, from 350,000 at beginning of January.

By June, however, there was Can-Spam compliance among 10 percent of spam messages. The act requires that unsolicited e-mail messages have a functioning return e-mail address, provide a postal address and include an option to "unsubscribe." Messages must also carry a subject line that is not deceptive.

The analysis also brought to the fore the fact that most spam is written in English, with only 5.77 percent in other languages.

Last week, a number of top Internet providers sought technical guidelines to tackle the growing menace of spam.