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msealey

What is the point of spam?

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This has always fascinated me: now that 98% of all internet traffic (one stat which I have read… seems a bit high; but an astounding statistic, whatever it is) is illegal emails offering services or product to potential 'customers' which - in the likely even that they were to 'buy' - they'd never receive, how do spammers make any money at all?

What do they really get out of it, if we assume that an almost infinitesimally small %age of all those spammed - after 25 years of this - are ever taken in?

It's a mystery to me; I might even be able to tolerate it a bit better (well, perhaps not!) if I could see why the spammers do it.

Anyone any ideas, please?

TIA…

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&nbsp &nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp One answer: http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index;_ylt=A0LEVj3p3T5UiUIAK85jmolQ?qid=20120706105318AAObO4Y.

&nbsp &nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp Another, describing the advantages for both spammer and hosting service: http://news.softpedia.com/news/Make-Money-Legally-With-spam-67829.shtml.

&nbsp &nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp Here is a review of some academic research: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/tzink/archive/2012/03/06/how-much-money-do-spammers-make.aspx.

&nbsp &nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp The above are just a few of the links returned to me from a GoodSearch (which uses Yahoo) of '+spam +how +"make money".'

&nbsp &nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp Then there's phishing, which I didn't see covered in any of the above. A phish asks you for confidential information, such as a credit card number or bank account number or even your phone number. The spammer uses this information to make purchases with your credit card, withdrawals from your bank account or sells your phone number which might then be used along with any other information you provide to steal your identity or use "social engineering" techniques to trick you into sending money or even more information to them so that they can steal your identity.

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... 98% of all internet traffic (one stat which I have read… seems a bit high; but an astounding statistic, whatever it is) is illegal emails offering services or product to potential 'customers' ..

There's a long-running series maintained by SenderBase here - http://www.senderbase.org/static/spam/

That used to include the % spam, which for years has been running around 85% - logically that will include some (but not all of it) which doesn't make it out of the originating networks (and more and more of those edge filter on the outwards).

The most visible kind of e-mail spam takes a high-volume scattergun approach, the 'solution' to any deficit in the tiny success rate is simply to ramp up the volume. One way or another it seems to be in some sort of balance but ordinary users don't see much of it at all these days. The downside is, the reliability of delivery of regular e-mail has probably declined with false positives on filtering - and fewer blocks resulting in non-delivery notifications, it seems to me.

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Steve,

Thanks for the resources. Their arguments still seem pretty weak - that minute amounts of money can be made from minute %ages of people who do part with they money in the hopes of seeing something in return.

That I could understand if it were a case of handing out 1,000 leaflets (or the electronic equivalent) to 100 people. Some of it (1% of 1%) will stick.

But as your senderbase pie chart shows (thank you!), the sheer volume of hated messaging which I'd have thought 99.99% of people either simply delete or take action over, or - IMHO rightly ignore on principle - can't possibly have a return for more than a correspondingly small %age of the many tens (hundreds?) of thousands of spammers sending. Yes, they may get rich b/c their operations are so large. But if i thought of myself setting up in the spamming business, I'd never expect to be able to live off it.

I can see how TV advertising works, mail shots, even telemarketing. But surely email spam (say 50 a day) is the equivalent of one robo-call/telemarketing attempt every 30 minutes around the clock.

OTOH, pragmatically, they wouldn't be doing it if there were indeed no return. I just can't see with billions of messages daily (phishing aside - that makes perfect sense) and the vast majority of users 'wise' to what's going on being worth their while.

On a subsidiary note, I do believe something serious has got to be done about it: few things except the degradation of the physical environment and greedy who cause others to hunger and thirst so negatively affect the quality of life of so many as spam. Minor, Yes. But such an irritant.

I've been an internet and email user since the early 1980s, BTW.

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<snip>

Their arguments still seem pretty weak - that minute amounts of money can be made from minute %ages of people who do part with they money in the hopes of seeing something in return.

That I could understand if it were a case of handing out 1,000 leaflets (or the electronic equivalent) to 100 people. Some of it (1% of 1%) will stick.

<snip>

&nbsp &nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp Ah, but you're thinking on far too small a scale, Mark! Spammers rely on the fact that the internet can transmit millions of messages in a relatively short span of time. 1% of 1% of a million is 100. And we're almost certainly talking multiple millions a week for a big spammer.

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So it's all worth it for the many tens or hundreds of thousands of spammers each to send out on the off chance that an uptake by 1% of 1% will more than cover their costs?

I respect what you say. I am sure you know more about it than I do.

And I appreciate that the internet, as you say, presents spammers with huge economies of scale.

But I still think it's a very long shot for most spammers - if for no other reason than that the unlikelihood of even 1% of 1% of 1% of 1% getting to the exact person who wants to refinance their house (cheap mortgages spam) at that moment, decides that at unknown spammer without record or reputation is a better option than a trusted mortgage company, and successfully sees it through and (re)finances as a result of the 'offer' they receive from an unknown source unsolicited and one of several dozen they receive that day.

IOW I have to think there's something else going on!

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<snip>

I respect what you say. I am sure you know more about it than I do.

<snip>

&nbsp &nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp Only because I've been here reading the thoughts and experiences of the truly knowledgeable (one of which I am far from being! :)).

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