Spam: Better as Casserole than Money-Maker?

by Casey Lynn
Contributing Writer, [GAS]

A new study out of UC Berkeley and UCSD took a close look at the economic viability of junk email. For one month, seven computer scientists infiltrated a large-scale spam network and did some mass mailing of their own. They ran two fake spam campaigns–one that mimicked the way a virus spreads, and another that tried to tempt people to buy a drug to boost their libido. Don’t worry, no actual gullibles were harmed during the course of this study; the fake pharmaceutical site displayed an error message when someone tried to submit a credit card number.

The results? 26 days, 350 million emails… 28 “sales.” An impressive response rate of 0.00001%!

Still, the researchers, upon scaling this up to account for the enormity of the spam network’s normal operations, estimated that they’re netting about $3.5 million a year. This is actually a tighter profit margin than most people were assuming, and the researchers suggest that the spammers may, therefore, be “economically susceptible to new defenses.”

Personally, I feel like spam filters have gotten so good that anyone who still clicks on spam deserves what they get. I’d say that a piece of spam makes it through Gmail’s filter to me about… oh, once a month, maybe. And if you’re reading that email about increasing your libido because you really need your libido increased and you trust a spammer more than real research, then you also deserve what you get.

I did, however, click on the recipe for Creamy Spam Broccoli Casserole that Google Ads helpfully suggested when I pulled up my spam folder to take the screenshot seen above. I don’t think I’ll be whipping that up any time soon… but I did see an email this morning claiming that spam boosts your libido…


One Response to Spam: Better as Casserole than Money-Maker?

  1. Wow. Just Wow.

    I've never understood how people could ever possibly think that a "company" selling V.1.A.G.R.4. online would EVER get any return on advertising via a email spam campaign. But then again, I continually look at how my parents are constantly requiring me to come fix viruses, or verify if that one email they got from PayPal (when they dont have paypal accts) is legit.

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