One response for every 12.5m e-mails can turn spammers into millionaires

November 11th, 2008 - 6:34 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Nov 11 (ANI): A new study has found that just one response for every 12.5 million spam mails sent can turn spammers into millionaires.

Researchers from University of California, San Diego and Berkeley hijacked a working spam network and uncovered some of the economics of being a junk mailer.

The scientists broke into the Storm network that uses hijacked home computers as relays for junk mail.

The research team led by Assistant Professor Stefan Savage from UCSD, created several so-called “proxy bots” that acted as conduits of information between the command and control system for Storm and the hijacked home PCs that actually send out junk mail.

They used these machines to control a total of 75,869 hijacked machines and routed their own fake spam campaigns through them.

For the study, the researchers created a pharmacy site and ran two types of fake spam campaign through these machines

One mimicked the way Storm spreads using viruses and the other tried to tempt people to visit a fake pharmacy site and buy a herbal remedy to boost their libido.

The fake pharmacy site was made to resemble those run by Storm’’s real owners but always returned an error message when potential buyers clicked a button to submit their credit card details.

While running their spam campaigns the researchers sent about 469 million junk e-mail messages. The vast majority of these were for the fake pharmacy campaign.

“After 26 days, and almost 350 million e-mail messages, only 28 sales resulted,” BBC quoted the researchers, as writing.

The response rate for this campaign was less than 0.00001percent. This is far below the average of 2.15 pct reported by legitimate direct mail organisations.

“Taken together, these conversions would have resulted in revenues of 2,731.88 dollarsa bit over 100 dollars a day for the measurement period,” they added.

The researchers estimate that the controllers of the vast system are netting about 7,000 dollars a day or more than 2m dollars per year. (ANI)

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