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Botnets Profitable, Though Require Millions of Spam for One Sale

Computer scientists at the University of California, Berkeley and UCSD (UC San Diego), have found in a study that spammers make huge profits though they get one response per 12.5 Million e-mails. The analysis also reveals that despite such a low rate of response, spam operation can convert millions of pounds into profits every year.

Moreover, the study begun in the early part of 2008 and stretched for around one month. Seven teams of computer scientists infiltrated into the Storm network that makes use of hacked home PC for sending junk e-mails. It was believed that Storm network controlled over one million computers when it was at its height.

According to the researchers, they set up "proxy bots" which acted as conduits of information between hacked home PCs and control and command system for Storm. These proxy bots were used to control 75,869 hacked computers which helped research teams to redirect their fake spam campaigns.

Researchers used these machines for running two kinds of spam campaigns. First campaign was an imitation of Storm campaign in which malicious viruses are sent, and other campaign included attracting people to fake online pharmacies for selling herbal remedies which boost their libido.

These fake online pharmacies look similar to those run by real owners of Storm, but when any potential buyer clicked on them to buy anything or submit his credit card details, they returned with an error message.

In their whole study, researchers sent out nearly 469 Million junk e-mails, majority of which belonged to the fake pharmacy campaign.

The researchers further disclosed that 26 days long drawn spam campaign in which around 350 Million e-mail messages were sent resulted in just 28 responses. In percentage terms, the response rate of the campaign was below 0.00001%, far lesser than the legitimate campaign (average 2.15%) wherein organizations directly send mails.

The low response rate confirms the fact that spammers are not making huge profits as some people predicted previously, said researchers.

Moreover, the researchers concluded that as profit margin from spam is very low, spammers become very sensitive about details, the process of running their campaigns and economic susceptibility to new defenses.

Related article: Botnet Misuses Google Analytics

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