The rise in illegitimate spam email that originates from the Far East could mark a worrying trend for companies.

New figures from Critical Software showed that email from Chinese IP addresses that are rejected by company servers before reaching client accounts, more than doubled from 10.4 million in November 2008 to 22.9 million in December.


In the same period, email from Vietnam rose 62 per cent from 2.9 million to 4.7 million, and from South Korea nearly 26 per cent from 6.2 million to 7.8 million.


The company claimed that the rise could potentially outweigh any lasting gains from more sophisticated detection and enforcement efforts in the US and Europe, which recently saw a reduction of spam following the shutdown of McColo in November.


Illegitimate mail originating in the other five highest spam-producing countries – US, UK, Russia, Brazil and Turkey – all fell significantly in the fourth quarter of 2008. 


Andy Calvert, Critical Software's technical director, said: “These figures show how concerted law-enforcement strategies at a national level can have a dramatic positive impact, but they also highlight how difficult it is for them to have a lasting effect globally as spam transcends national boundaries.


“The Far East is promoting itself to the West as a low-cost option for outsourced IT services but it has not yet adopted the same level of sophistication in web and mail security as the US and Europe.


“At the same time, millions of new users in Asia are accessing the internet largely unaware that their PCs can be easily targeted and compromised. This is creating a huge network of mini-host systems for spammers keen to exploit soft targets.”