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Issue of December 2006 

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Spam island-hopping: a new threat

A new trend known as spam island-hopping is on the rise. Island-hopping spammers use the domain names of small islands as Web site links in spam campaigns. Traditionally, spammers have used well-known Top Level Domains (TLDs) such as .com, .biz or .info. By using TLDs from small island countries, spammers attempt to avoid detection since these domains are not commonly found in spam filters.

This trend was initially discovered when McAfee researchers noticed a significant increase in the use of .st domains, which is the TLD for Sao Tome and Principe, a small island off the west coast of Africa. The unusual activity raised flags for McAfee’s researchers, who tracked the spammers on a virtual migration around the globe. Subsequently, spam using TLDs from small islands has continued to increase.

The small islands listed in the table below are being favoured by spammers, according to McAfee.

Land Area
(sq km)
.tk Tokelau 10 1,392
.cc Cocos (Keeling) Islands 14 628
.tv Tuvalu 26 11,810
.as American Samoa 199 57,794
.im Isle of Man 572 75,550
.to Tonga 748 114,689
.st Sao Tome and Principe 1001 193,413
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Indian Express - Business Publications Division

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