The study, by a team of seven computer scientists from University of California, Berkeley and UC, San Diego (UCSD) infiltrated the Storm network, which uses hijacked home PCs to relay much of the junk email you spend your days wading through while wondering ‘who the hell responds to this stuff?’
Well. Now you know. One gullible idiot in 12,500,000 recipients. Or thereabouts.
Spam the spammers
“The best way to measure spam is to be a spammer,” claims the study. And they certainly picked the right network to hijack, with the Storm network having over one million machines under its control at one point.
Using ‘proxy bots’ the team of researchers managed to control 75,869 hijacked machines to conduct their own fake spam campaigns.
The researchers used two of the most popular ploys currently used by spammers – firstly offering a fake pharmacy site and, secondly, offering a herbal Viagra-style remedy to boost libido.
“After 26 days, and almost 350 million email messages, only 28 sales resulted,” says the research paper.
Yet even with this apparently abysmal response rate of less than 0.00001 per cent, the researchers still estimate that the controllers of a network the size of Storm are still bringing in about $7,000 (£4,430) a day or $3.5m (£2.21m) over a year.
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