10 November 2008
Spammers are turning a profit despite only getting one response for
every 12.5m e-mails they send, finds a study.
By hijacking a working spam network, US researchers have uncovered some
of the economics of being a junk mailer.
The analysis suggests that such a tiny response rate means a big spam
operation can turn over millions of pounds in profit every year.
It also suggests that spammers may be susceptible to attacks that make
it more costly to send junk mail.
The spam study was carried out in early 2008 by computer scientists from
University of California, Berkeley and UC, San Diego (UCSD).
For their month-long study the seven-strong team of computer scientists
infiltrated the Storm network that uses hijacked home computers as
relays for junk mail.
At its height Storm was believed to have more than one million machines
under its control.
The team, led by Assistant Professor Stefan Savage from UCSD, took over
a chunk of the Storm network to make it easier to run their study.
"The best way to measure spam is to be a spammer," wrote the researchers
in a paper describing their work.
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