India has acquired the dubious distinction of being the "top spam-spewing nation on the planet’’ overtaking America, according to a report of the security firm Sophos which ranks nations by the amount of junk mail routed through computers in each country.

The report said that some ten per cent of all junk mail sent across the web came from or passed through computers in India with America in the second place at 8.3 per cent and South Korea third at 5.7 per cent.

It attributed India’s dramatic rise up the ``spam chart’’ partly to the inexperience of many of first-time internet users.

"The latest stats show that, as more first-time internet users get online in growing economies, they are not taking measures to block the malware infections that turn their PCs into spam-spewing zombies," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos.

Another-- more obvious-- reason underlined by the report was the exponential growth of the web in India. Another factor was that spammers were moving away from the traditional email route with more and more using social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter to spread their junk messages.

The report reckoned that about 80 per cent of all junk email was routed through PCs hijacked by hi-tech criminals who used computer viruses to seize control of the machines. Once a computer was under their control they used them to send out mail on their behalf, typically relaying it from another nation.

According to experts, spammers ``love’’ holidays with junk mail reaching its peak during the holiday season. They advised computer users to make sure they had a virus protection programme and updated it regularly.

And, finally, there was warning for habitual ``forwarders’’ of emails:

``Please do not forward every email you get regardless of how good the cause looks,’’ said a report from Kaspersky Lab, a leading British provider of anti-virus and spyware software.

Keywords: spam mails