As if being the leading home for botnets wasn't enough, a new report from Sophos named the United States as the top spam-relaying country for the third quarter of the year.
According to Sophos, between July and September, the United States was responsible for relaying 18.6 percent of all spam, up from 15.2 percent during the second quarter. India followed the United States on the list with 7.6 percent for the third quarter, with the top five rounded out by Brazil (5.7 percent), France (5.4 percent) and the U.K. (5 percent).
Almost all of this spam comes from botnets, Sophos found. In Microsoft's latest Security Intelligence Report, the company reported that the U.S. was home to some 2.2 million PCs infected with botnet malware-roughly four times as many as Brazil, the country with the next highest amount.
"Spam isn't just a nuisance, it's used by cybercriminals as a means of growing their operations," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos, in a statement. "You should never even be tempted to open a spam message out of curiosity, as it can only take a second to effectively hand over control of your computer to the spammers. If your computer does become part of a botnet, you're also inviting further malware infections, which may compromise your personal or banking details."
Sophos also notes a rise in social networking spam during the year's third quarter, such as the "onMouseOver" exploit on Twitter and numerous Facebook scams used by spammers to generate money from survey Websites.
"What's interesting about the Facebook scams is that they exploit human weaknesses to spread-tricking users into filling in a questionnaire if they want to see a shocking picture or video that may not even exist," Cluley said. "Unfortunately, these scams continue to proliferate, with new ones springing up every day, and Facebook seemingly unable to kill them off permanently."