At the end of 2010, the United States remained on top of the "Dirty Dozen" list of spam relaying nations compiled by IT security firm Sophos.
"Traditional subject matter such as adverts for pharmaceuticals continue to be a concern, with some 36 million Americans reported to purchase drugs from unlicensed online sellers--but more and more messages are spreading malware and are attempting to phish user names, passwords and personal information," Sophos said in a statement.
It also noted that there has been an increase in focused phishing attacks, known as spearphishing, on consumers, as well as reports of malicious apps, compromised profiles, and unwanted messages being spread across social networks like Facebook.
"Spam is certainly here to stay, however the motivations and the methods are continuing to change in order to reap the greatest rewards for the spammers," Sophos Senior Technology Consultant Graham Cluley said. "What's becoming even more prevalent is the mailing of links to poisoned web pages--victims are tricked into clicking a link in an email, and then led to a site that attacks their computer with exploits or attempts to implant fake anti-virus software."
The top three spam relayers in the list remained unchanged from the August to September quarter. The United States was responsible for nearly one in five junk messages circulating the Internet and hosted 18.83 percent of the spam relays around the globe, while India placed second with 6.88 percent and Brazil third with 5.04 percent.
Below the top three spammers, only the United Kingdom in the fifth slot with 4.54 percent of the relays, Romania at number 11 with 2.3 percent and Spain in the 12 spot with 2.24 percent preserved their positions from the previous period.
Both Russia and Italy rose in the ranks--Russia to number four (4.64 percent) from a seven last quarter and Italy to seven (3.17 percent) from 10.
Meanwhile France, Germany, South Korea and Vietnam all fell in the table--France (3.45 percent) to sixth from fourth, Germany (2.99 percent) from sixth to ninth, South Korea from seventh to eighth and Vietnam (2.79 percent) to tenth from ninth.