Could NZ become a spam haven?

New Zealand has rocketed to the third largest producer of spam in the region, according to anti-spam company Brightmail.

New Zealand has rocketed to the third largest producer of spam in the region, according to anti-spam company Brightmail.

Spam claiming to originate from New Zealand accounts for 14% of the region's spam production, up from only 2% in January. The biggest offenders are China and Korea with 34% and 30% respectively. Japan is fourth with only 8%.

Brightmail, which provides anti-spam filters to both Telecom and TelstraClear in New Zealand, tracks email traffic through around 15% of the world's email addresses, making it the largest anti-spam filtering service in the world.

Local anti-spam fighters Auckland-based Richard Jowsey at Death2Spam and Christchurch-based Nick Bolton from Firetrust, which produces MailWasher, both agree that New Zealand's lack of legislation could be behind the surge.

Bolton says the introduction of legislation in other countries is forcing spammers to look elsewhere for their base of operations.

"Legislation is forcing them to move on and perhaps they see New Zealand's lack of legislation as a sign that we're happy to have them."

Bolton says hijacked PCs are also a concern.

"I understand that something like 30-40% of all spam is sent through a hijacked PC these days. Perhaps that's a factor in the increase [in New Zealand]."

The link has been made between spammers and the increase in the number of viruses that either open ports on infected machines or that install trojan backdoors without the users' authorisation.

Death2Spam's Jowsey says ultimately it doesn't matter where the spam comes from.

"We were looking at including it as one of the parameters in our filter but in the end we realised that it's just not statistically important. There are other factors that are far more important when it comes to identifying spam."

Jowsey says the number of poorly secured PCs and open relays around the world means the spammers don't have to be based in any one country to create havoc there.

"They're just looking for the next unsecured box and they're send out 15 million emails and move on before anyone's onto them. It doesn't matter where they're based."

Labour's associate communications minister David Cunliffe plans to introduce anti-spam legislation before the end of the year. While Cunliffe recognises that legislation alone is not the answer, his advisory Julian Kersey says it's an important move if only to allow New Zealand to participate in bilateral and multilateral anti-spam agreements.

The spam list for Asia Pacific region:

China 34%

Korea 30%

New Zealand 14%

Japan 8%

Hong Kong 4%

Taiwan 4%

Australia 2%

India 1%

Singapore 1%

Philippines 1%

Malaysia 1%

Thailand 0%

Vietnam 0%

Pacific Islands 0%

Indonesia 0%

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