Tuesday, December 2, 2008
techdirt -from the But-You'll-Still-Get-Useless-Emails dept
The battle against spammers rages on, both in the tech and legal worlds, but sadly, with little success. Despite the advances in anti-spam technology and spammers getting sued, shutting down and having their service providers cut off their operations, the torrent of spam hitting email inboxes continues unabated. While there are several anti-spam tools that may be good enough for most users, it's clear that a technological solution alone to stopping spam remains far off. But perhaps the biggest hope is to take aim at spammers' profitability, as their margins look a little vulnerable. A BBC story cites some earlier research that says spammers sending out 350 million messages a month can earn roughly $100 per day, while the entire massive Storm botnet could generate around $2 million per year. Neither is a figure to sniff at, but nor are they really huge sums of money -- suggesting that frustrating spammers by disrupting their services and raising costs, as well as trying to hold down responses even more, could diminish the profitability of spam to the point where it's no longer attractive. Ironically, the rise in spam plays a part, too, since spammers are in essence competing with each other for users' attention and clicks, so the more spam that gets sent, the worse the response rate for the individual message or campaign (for instance, the researchers' response rate was less than 0.00001%). But the underlying issue remains the fact that people click on spam and buy stuff through it. Changing that might be even harder than developing the perfect spam filter.