Of course shady banks are involved in the worldwide spam scourge, otherwise there wouldn’t be any money generated for the spam-meisters sending their poorly crafted herbal viagra emails. What’s interesting is that there are so few banks involved.
For years, a team of computer scientists at two University of California campuses has been looking deeply into the nature of spam, the billions of unwanted e-mail messages generated by networks of zombie computers controlled by the rogue programs called botnets. They even coined a term, “spamalytics,” to describe their work. Now they have concluded an experiment that is not for the faint of heart: for three months they set out to receive all the spam they could (no quarantines or filters need apply), then systematically made purchases from the Web sites advertised in the messages.
The hope, the scientists said, was to find a “choke point” that could greatly reduce the flow of spam. And in a paper to be presented on Tuesday at the annual IEEE Symposium (PDF) on Security and Privacy in Oakland, Calif., they will report that they think they have found it.
It turned out that 95 percent of the credit card transactions for the spam-advertised drugs and herbal remedies they bought were handled by just three financial companies — one based in Azerbaijan, one in Denmark and one in Nevis, in the West Indies.
The researchers looked at nearly a billion messages and spent several thousand dollars on about 120 purchases. No single purchase was more than $277.
If a handful of companies like these refused to authorize online credit card payments to the merchants, “you’d cut off the money that supports the entire spam enterprise,” said one of the scientists, Stefan Savage of the University of California, San Diego, who worked with colleagues at San Diego and Berkeley and at the International Computer Science Institute.
(click here to continue reading Study Says Spam Can Be Cut by Blocking Card Transactions – NYTimes.com.)
And you probably already realized this, but there is a lot of spam sent out, cluttering our email boxes with come-ons for boner pills and Cialis rip-offs…
Spam has proved notoriously difficult to defeat over the years, despite sophisticated filtering technologies and legal investigations and convictions. Seven years after the famous prediction by Bill Gates, then chairman of Microsoft, that spam would be eradicated in just two years, about 90 percent of all e-mail is spam.
An earlier study undertaken by the scientists showed that a single commercial spam e-mail campaign generated three messages for every person on the planet. That same study revealed that to sell $100 worth of Viagra, a spam provider needed to send 12.5 million messages.