Has China created a spam monster? The use of spam (unsolicited email)
has tripled in the last six months, and if the current growth continues, by the
end of the year, over 90 percent of all email will be spam. Most of the
increase is in the form of deceptive stock market advice, which tries to get
people to buy cheap stocks, which the spam sponsors have already bought up at
low prices. The spam sponsors sell out quickly after their spam campaign (which
may only last a day or so). This is called, "pump and dump." It's an illegal,
but lucrative, scam that was around long before the Internet. What's
interesting is that so much of the spam is coming from China and South Korea.
Now, South Korea makes sense, because that country has the most wired
population in East Asia, and most of those users are on high-speed connections.
South Korea also has a high percentage of users whose PCs have been turned into
zombies (secretly controlled by criminals who use networks of such zombies to
spew out spam.) China, however, is another matter. Not as many high speed
connections (even though China has 130 million Internet users, versus 34
million in South Korea), and a government Internet police organization that is
the largest and most powerful on the planet. Yes, there are Internet criminals
in China, but many are known to carry out their Internet scams only as long as
they do not target Chinese (at least those in China), and "cooperate" with the
government. There is not going to be a major criminal operation, via the
Internet, based in China, for the last six months, without the Chinese
government having a hand in it.
Chinese government is not bashful about its Cyber War efforts, although
officials are more reticent when it comes to details. It is known that the
Chinese government makes use of civilian "irregulars," and even mercenaries,
for some of its Cyber War tasks. The question is, what purpose is being served
with the current spam flood? Just fund raising for the Chinese Cyber War
troops? Could it be just one part of a larger campaign? A lot of nasty Internet
activity has been coming out of China lately, including very targeted attacks
on American military bases, and individual military personnel. But, so far, no
one is saying much publicly. Probably because to present a lot of evidence of
Chinas complicity would let the Chinese know how well they are being observed.