Russia has become the world's spam superpower. According to security specialists Sophos, which published its Q4 2007 spam report, Russia is now a spam superpower having seen its share of total volumes rise dramatically over the 12 months, causing CIOs a major headache.

The first three quarters of 2007 saw Russia's share shoot up from three per cent of spam volumes in Q1, to 3.1 per cent in Q2, 4.4 percent in Q3, before hitting 8.3 percent in the new figures. As recently as 2006, the country’s share for the whole year was only 1.8 percent, which saw it at 11th place in the Sophos spam-sending league table.

Russia is already prominent for internet crimes, including malware and exploits such as denial of service attacks.

Sophos was keen to stress that the figures partly reflect the number of compromised botnet PCs in Russia that have been hijacked as relays. The amount of spam that actually originates in Russia is not necessarily the same as the above figures. Nevertheless, the rise of Russia into second place, with no sign of volumes slowing, is bound to add to the country’s bad image for creating headaches for CIOs and thier businesses.

“We think that's a pretty interesting increase and change in the chart over the years,” commented Graham Cluley of Sophos. “Of course, Russia has its fair share of spammers - and we see a good amount of Russian language spam advertising training courses and goods which are clearly of Russian origin.”

It’s not just the Russians who deserve bad press from the latest figures. The US sent a towering 21.3 per cent of global spam over the quarter, with China in third place behind Russia with 4.2 per cent, and a clutch of countries including many European ones, not far behind. Europe’s overall spam-relaying figures dwarfs Russia's with a combined total of 27.1 per cent.

US spam volumes is in decline. Russia could in theory overtake the US in the next two years, though spam statistics are notoriously hard to predict.