The amount of spam the UK is producing has surged, causing Britain to take fourth place in Sophos' 'Dirty Dozen' list of the top spam-producing countries.

The security firm revealed the UK produced 4.6 percent of the world's spam during the second quarter of 2010. That's a vast increase from last when Britain had slipped out of the top 12.

The US held onto the number one spot in the list of the countries that relay the most spam, accounting for 15.2 percent of global spam, up from 13.1 percent the previous quarter.

India was ranked second as its produces 7.7 percent of the world's spam, while Brazil came third, producing 5.5 percent of spam distributed around the globe.

"It's sad to see spam relayed via compromised European computers on the rise - the UK, France, Italy and Poland have all crept up the rankings since the start of the year," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos.

"Financially-motivated criminals are controlling compromised zombie computers to not just launch spam campaigns, but also to steal identity and bank account information. It's an uphill struggle educating users about the dangers of clicking on links or attachments in spam mails, and that their computers may already be under the control of cybercriminals."

Sophos said businesses and computer users must take a more proactive approach to spam filtering and IT security in order to avoid adding to this global problem

The security firm also revealed Europe has leapfrogged over Asia to become the most prolific continent for spamming, accounting for 35 percent of global spam, compared to Asia's 30.9 percent

"Spam will continue to be a global problem for as long as it makes money for the spammers. It makes commercial sense for the criminals to continue if even a tiny proportion of recipients clicks on the links," Cluley said.

"Too many computer users are risking a malware infection that sees their computer recruited into a spam botnet. To combat the spammers, it's not only essential for computer users to run up-to-date security software, they must also resist the urge to purchase products advertised by spam."

See also: ISPs failing to stop outbound spam