A new academic paper on point by point spam networks has been published. It is a very detailed step by step break down of how spam works. Everything from marketing tactics to the payment networks is covered. It is a an amzingly in depth look at the issue.
Abstract—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.
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