Computer Crime Research Center


Spam: regular users' perspective

Date: March 11, 2004
Source: Computer Crime Research Center
By: Dmitri Kramarenko

In spite of technical prevention of spam flows and new laws on against spam, situation does not improve. According to different forecasts, by midst of 2004 segment of spam may reach 70% of total email traffic. Spammers adapt, find new opportunities for e-mail dispatches earning thus their living. The volume of goods sold with help of mass email distribution reached $11.7 billion in 2003. Over 40 million of Americans bought goods advertised through email.

According to BBC, one third of all spam is sent from home computers. Only few can use operation system at homes as skilfully as it is used in local networks of companies, and due to throughput it is possible to transmit significant volumes of data.

Viruses, in particular, worms prepare home computers for using them as sources of spam. In January 2003, Sobig was the first virus of such sort. Then came Sinit, Fizzer and MyDoom. Epidemic of the last became the most scaled over the Internet.

Infected computers are not the objects of the attack. On the contrary, virus tries to remain unnoticed. However infected computers (in MyDoom case hundreds thousands of computers were infected, some experts consider that they amounted half a million) set up a spam network that spread spam.

Before development of technologies that will in principle take away anonymous email distribution, it is necessary to detect network addresses of infected computers. Announcement of lists with such addresses is an efficient way to make owners of infected computers to get rid of viruses that spread spam (outgoing mail from infected computers will be refused by mail servers and this is serious stimulus for "curing"). "Black lists" of infected computers are filed today too but privately. It is inevitable in the nearest future that either each user will become a system administrator or paid software support of home computers will be rapidly developed.

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