Spam-a-lot

Research by the University of California, Berkeley and UC, San Diego has shed some more light on spam - specifically just how few responses it takes to spam emails you need to get to make it a viable business

Tags: Cyber crimeSpam
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By  Mark Sutton Published  November 11, 2008

Research by the University of California, Berkeley and UC, San Diego has shed some more light on spam - specifically just how few responses it takes to spam emails you need to get to make it a viable business.

The researchers hijacked part of the Storm botnet earlier in the year, and monitored what happened when they sent out their own spam email - some 469 million messages - that mostly directed traffic to a fake online pharmacy they had established.

The results - only one spam in every 12.5 million convinced someone to try and make a purchase on the pharmacy website - a response rate of just 0.00001%

While the researchers didn't actually take any payments, they calculated that they could have made around $100 a day for their efforts, and by scaling up their results, they estimate that controllers of a big botnet, like Storm, could be taking around $7,000 per day from spam.

The researchers think that the narrow profit margins involved could make the spammers more vulnerable to anti-spam efforts. That might be true, but spam is here to stay. Spammers have proved themselves adaptable and resourceful enough in the past to get round counter measures.

And the results also show that no matter how much education there is surrounding online safety, it only takes a tiny handful of unsuspecting victims to make spamming a lucrative business. You only need to fool some of the people, some of the time...

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