It’s the money, stupid. Why didn’t anyone think of this before? Get the credit card clearance co’s and the banks to stop payments and the SPAM money trail will dry up. A great idea?
A new study by 2 University of California research groups carefully mapped out the registration, hosting and monetization of several spam and scam efforts. What they found wasn’t anything new. We all know that there are countries you can register and host in that turn a blind eye. But what was new was realizing that the whole chain rests on the spammers getting paid for whatever they’re pushing. And that was like a lightbulb? Would it be possible to pressure the banks NOT to clear these questionable transactions?
It is an appealing idea. No doubt fraught with legislative and regulatory issues, cross-border diplomacy and a whole lot more. However, it is “common practice” for the clearing banks to vet and approve individuals and businesses. So why not extend this to vet the spammers food chain?
To read the report “Click Trajectories: End-to-End Analysis of the Spam Value Chain” – a free PDF download – click here.
Here’s the Abstract from the research report:
Spam-based advertising is a business. While it has engendered both widespread antipathy and a multi-billion dollar anti-spam industry, it continues to exist because it fuels a profitable enterprise. We lack, however, a solid understanding of this enterprise’s full structure, and thus most anti-spam interventions focus on only one facet of the overall spam value chain (e.g., spam filtering, URL blacklisting, site takedown). In this paper we present a holistic analysis that quantifies the full set of resources employed to monetize spam email— including naming, hosting, payment and fulfillment—using extensive measurements of three months of diverse spam data, broad crawling of naming and hosting infrastructures, and over 100 purchases from spam-advertised sites. We relate these resources to the organizations who administer them and then use this data to characterize the relative prospects for defensive interventions at each link in the spam value chain. In particular, we provide the first strong evidence of payment bottlenecks in the spam value chain; 95% of spam-advertised pharmaceutical, replica and software products are monetized using merchant services from just a handful of banks.