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the spam market


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Spamonomics 101 permalink.gif

By Allison Randal on January 15, 2007

http://radar.oreilly.com/archives/2007/01/...nomics_101.html

The biggest thing I've wondered about spam is: Why do the spammers even bother? They spend an enormous amount of effort, time, and (I expect) money to deliver huge quantities of mail to my inbox, which I then spend an enormous amount of effort, time, and (for some people) money to delete unseen and unread. How is this profitable for the spammers?

Last week I talked to Ken Simpson and Stas Bekman of MailChannels, a spam-fighting solution provider. The answer to my question is that the business of spamming is profitable, sometimes enormously so, but it's a volume business and the percentage of profit over that volume is quite small. Spammers are the door-to-door salesmen who knock on every door in the neighborhood to get one sale. Except the neighborhood is the entire planet, and the number of doors they can knock simultaneously is only limited by the cost of computing power. That cost is the key point in the economics of spam: spammers have to get out a high enough volume of spam that the small sliver of profit is greater than the cost of sending it.

These economics drive the patterns of spam we receive. Traditionally porn advertisements have the highest click-through rate, followed by pharmaceutical advertisements, though penny stock spam is gaining popularity. And the spam messages that aren't advertisements, scams, or virus attacks, but just random strings of text? Ken Simpson comments, "Those messages are sent by spammers to poison the spam filters. When someone receives a message full of gibberish and reports it as spam, the spam filters tune themselves to recognize gibberish as spam—which reduces their overall accuracy."

MailChannels has an interesting approach to the problem of spam. They use email traffic-shaping to identify the high-volume traffic patterns of spammers and then slow suspicious packets from those servers down to a crawl. In the short-term this affects the spam influx only on a local level: many spambots simply drop the connection to a slow mail server and move on to higher volume—and so more profitable—targets. (Like an animal taking a big bite out of a tasty-looking thistle, and then deciding it isn't worth the effort.) In the long-term, though, if enough mail servers employed similar tactics, the strategy has the potential to gradually disrupt the economics of spamming, making spam less profitable, or perhaps even unprofitable.

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Recent stock spam, in particular, looks like it's extremely profitable -- check Joe Stewart's recent dissection of a stock spamming incident:

'So, at close on Friday Dec 15, the stock is at $0.0011. Suddenly, the Rustock botnet begins spewing out the spam shown above. All weekend it churns away, sending millions of emails. Monday morning, Dec 18, sees the stock immediately rise to $0.0019 a share, then all the way to $0.0025 a share, as some recipients of the spam begin to purchase the stock. A far cry from the spammer′s target of $0.02 a share, but lets see how much that adds up to. If the spammer sells his shares early on Monday, when the stock has peaked, those 11,532,726 shares could be worth nearly $29,000, leaving the spammer with a cool $20K profit for one weekend. I wonder if the spams touting Viagra and Rolexes have ever made that much profit so quickly for the spammers with so little effort and almost zero overhead. It's little wonder why stock spam is taking over.

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I trade the markets and get the stock spams all the time. I know my email addy has been sold to some of the spammers by sites that I frequent. The stock spams are even getting more sophisticated. Instead of all text. They send an email with text containing something totally irrelevant like the history of George Washington or something equally innocuous. Then they embed a pic with the spam into the email. These get by my spam filters quite easily.

BTW, I never play these front loaded stocks. The promoter buys in before the spam and then sells before the newbs to leave a bunch of bagholders when it goes back down, usually lower than where it started at.

FWIW, NEVER buy a stock from an email/fax or snail mail pump!

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FWIW, NEVER buy a stock from an email/fax or snail mail pump!

never buy anything from a spammer....

if dumb peeps would just learn that then there would be no buisness for spammers...

and no buisness=no income=no more spammers

but as long as they can find that one dumb-ass out of 1,000 then they will continue to pump out 10,000 e-mails to find 10 suckers and get paid.

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