Huge Spam Ring Shut Down... But Will It Make A Difference?

from the we'll-see dept

Every so often, we see a random news story about authorities somehow arresting or shutting down some huge spam ring, and every time the articles are peppered with quotes about just how big the operation is and how much spam they send out. And, yet, every time, it never seems to do very much to dent the amount of spam that's being sent. So, again, with this week's big spam bust, all the numbers and explanations sound impressive. 35,000 computers in a botnet. Able to send 10 billion (billion, with a b) spam messages per day. The leading source of spam online in January (what, only January?). These all sound impressive, but the real question should be whether or not this does anything to decrease spam. Or will others just as quickly jump in to fill the breach?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    Ima Fish, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 5:06am

    "And, yet, every time, it never seems to do very much to dent the amount of spam that's being sent."

    Has the drug war made one dent in the trade of illegal drugs?!

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 6:51am

      Re:

      Look if you want to be a pothead move to Canada.

       

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        Ima Fish, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 7:22am

        Re: Re:

        "Look if you want to be a pothead move to Canada."

        I never said that. I merely pointed out that the war on spammers will have the same effect as the war on drugs: Absolutely none. The "solution" for both is for customers to stop buying. Once there is no money in it, both will stop.

         

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 7:22am

      Re:

      No. The difference is that the drug war is immoral and wrongheaded, while the prosecution of spammers is moral and legitimate. Apples and oranges.

       

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        Ima Fish, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 7:34am

        Re: Re:

        "The difference is that the drug war is immoral and wrongheaded, while the prosecution of spammers is moral and legitimate."

        So selling crack to 6 graders is somehow moral? Please explain. I'll love to hear this one.

        Heck, why make up a hypothetical, even though drugs are being pushed in kids in real life. My friend was once beat up by the neighborhood crack dealer for refusing to buy crack. How was that moral? I won't be holding my breath awaiting an answer.

        And one more, how is this moral? I know spammers are annoying, but they've never caused problems that egregious.

        "Apples and oranges."

        Nope, Apples to Apples. In both drug sales and in spam there has to be customers. If no one bought crap from spam, there would be no money in sending spam, and it would die a quick death. The exact same is true of drugs. If no one bought illegal drugs, there would be no money in selling illegal drugs, thus, the sale of illegal drugs would die a quick death.

        Also in both the drug war and the criminal fight against spammers, there will never be any victory. Like the illegal drug industry, there is simply too much quick and easy money in the spam industry for anyone to be afraid of prosecution.

         

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          Your Gawd and Master, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 10:10am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "So selling crack to 6 graders is somehow moral? Please explain. I'll love to hear this one. "

          Light up another straw man why don't ya. Here, let me spell it out for you since you obviously didn't bother to read: The ****war on drugs**** is immoral and wrongheaded.

          Let's try that again just to make sure cause your reading comprehension is pretty lacking:

          The WAR ON DRUGS is immoral and wrongheaded.

          Now, explain to the class the difference between your comment about selling crack and the original comment about the WAR ON DRUGS.

          We too want to hear your explanation.

           

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            Your Gawd and Master, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 10:18am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            That said, there are only so many people in the world intelligent enough to setup and maintain a botnet. While we like to think of them as being merely script kiddies, someone still has to keep the technology advancing as new countermeasures are developed and as those people get pulled out of the pool, it becomes harder and harder to keep up.

            It doesn't take a lot of intelligence to sell drugs since they sell themselves for the most part. And since there's an overabundance of not-so-intelligent people *cough*ImaFish*cough* in this world, it's not too hard to find those who want to step up and make some cash doing something they might have a knack for.

             

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 5:07am

    And these raids do nothing for the thousands of Americans who don't know jack about computer security and are actually a part of the botnet unknowingly.

     

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    jelly, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 6:02am

    spam

    I have seen a decrease but I'm sure in the next couple weeks I'll see it climb back up

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 8:24am

      Re: spam

      I, too, have seen a decrease. My spam is down to less than 4000 a day from more than 6000. It started to decline a few weeks ago, about the time it was reported that a family of malware domains had been ousted from their last ISP, and then the numbers dropped again this week.

       

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    chris (profile), Oct 15th, 2008 @ 6:07am

    35,000 bots? yawn.

    i don't get out of bed for less than 50,000.

    the most conservative estimates of the kraken and storm botnets are in the high hundreds of thousands and some believe that they might number in the millions.

    celebrating taking down 35,000 bots in "the war against spam" is like high-fiving your team for showing up to practice.

    sure, it's good to show up for practice, just like it's good to take down botnets, but don't start the champagne toasts just yet.

     

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    JJ, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 6:09am

    Suppose it does make a big difference. Suppose it results in a 15% reduction in spam. That would be a huge difference. But would anybody notice 15% less? I certainly wouldn't.

    Now, if they could make 4 or 5 busts like that in the same year, we'd see a huge short-term difference... and suddenly large-scale spamming would be a high-risk endeavor, so maybe you'd see a lot fewer people getting into it.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 6:22am

      Re:

      In response to #5:

      It does seem like this at first glance, but the past proves that it doesn't work - it would take hundreds of times more investment in time and money to achieve something like that.

      It's the same reason alcohol prohibition didn't work 80 (?) years ago, the same story with policing copyright infringement, and also the same reason why chasing talibans in the Afghanistan mountains won't curb terrorism.

      The effort needed to police these (percieved of real) wrongs is so expensive that it is not really feasable in any meaningful way.

       

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    EnOne, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 6:29am

    Is it that hard to stop a computer from sending out thousands of emails a day? putting a soft cap at 100 a day would probably still be well under most people's usage.

    I'm hoping that someday a router that I purchase for my home will have a detector in it to make sure that one of my home computers isn't likely a zombie.

     

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      mslade, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 6:36am

      Re:

      "I'm hoping that someday a router that I purchase for my home will have a detector in it to make sure that one of my home computers isn't likely a zombie."

      The trick is getting it to do that without interfering with normal usage, and this is where most anti-virus (etc etc) providers fail (at the software and hardware level). I can see it now: after days of tech support with your ISP about why all of your emails are being dropped, you finally find out that your router is conveniently and quietly doing it for you.

      A nice theory, but easy to do wrong, and in the end who are you helping with such a router? Not yourself; the rest of the world.

       

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    t0m5k1, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 7:17am

    throughout the world we fight fire with fire so i wonder if the same is possible with the virus....

    fight the spread of pc virri with a virus thereby creating an 'anti-botnet' it could pretend to be the latest & greatest virus & reverse the effect's & slowly work it's way to the center.

    opps sorry that was just a random thought from a pot head who does not live in canada!!!!

     

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    AReader, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 7:42am

    Spam Ring

    I like to corral spam in a two week spooge bucket, just to see what and who is the stoopid thing of the quarter. Before the previous arrest and suicide, I'd collect about 650 messages, after, it was about 350. It's now back up to 450, so it'll be interesting to see what kind of dent this latest roundup creates.

     

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    Peng, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 7:43am

    Wait a minute....

    Wait a minute, I must have mis-read the article. Did they say a purchase was made from the website and it was actually fullfilled? Now I am not in favor of spam but it seems to me there are other companies out there that gets your information and never deliever. I can assume they are missing the details of how they are selling the buyer's information etc etc, but a lot of legit companies are doing that too. I think the drug company are being targetted for selling cheap drugs (admittedly without a doctor's note / instruction - which I understand is in violation of the law). But if I were a buyer, I imagine I would know how to use the drugs I purchase online (I believe only a minority goes online to buy their very first batch of medication). I just think there are more to the story than omitting the opt-out / postal address etc.

    Just my two cents.

     

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    John, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 7:49am

    Keep to the issue here. No, the shutdown will have little effect because it was allowed to go on so long, that the operators were able to stash millions in offshore accounts. After a few months or maybe a year in jail (unlikely) they can retire to the Bahamas and take it easy. There is no incentive to shut down for operators, because the laws are useless and the actions by the feds are too little and too late. ALL SPAM NEEDS TO BE OUTLAWED AND THE LAWS ENFORCED. Unfortunately, our congress knows as much about the internet as it does about the economy --- NOTHING.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 8:38am

    Maybe they can try making a dent in the snail mail spam industry. Such as campaign adds. I specifically remember marking every time i was asked "do not share this adress with *blah blah blah*", and yet I still have to see McCains crypt keeper-esque face staring at me from in the mail box. Perhaps our government could be, oh please tell me it isn't so, HYPOCRITES???

     

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    Paul, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 9:21am

    If you want to kill spam, follow the money

    Pass a law saying some task force has the authority to:
    A: buy the product being spammed
    B: reverse the credit card charge
    C: fine the company for selling its products via spam through credit card records

    If the fine is not huge then companys will have a harder time using the "we dident want our product spammed, its some rogue guy"

    And the spammers dont get any money because the Credit Card companys will know about the taskforce and its job.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 10:34am

    Obama is evil.

     

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    John, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 3:37pm

    I agree with poster #19

    We will never stop spam by going after the spammers. The only way to stop it is to make it un-profitable.

    Like the war on drugs, we don't worry about the "middle-men", but go after the customers (no customers = no sales) and the suppliers (no supplies = no products).
    So, instead of going after the spammers, like poster #19 said, go after the companies who advertise their products in spam.

    If you can't get the companies for using spam to advertise, you can probably get them for mail fraud or misrepresentation when they don't ship the supposed product.

     

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    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 4:08pm

    Pay to Send Mail

    I don't mind the junk mail in my physical mailbox—that rarely exceeds a dozen items a week, and promotes legitimate products from legitimate businesses. I do mind the junk in my e-mail box—that has reached 200 items a day, and mostly promotes illegitimate products from dodgy businesses.

    Why the difference? In the physical case, it costs the senders, so that acts as an incentive to maximize the quality of the mailings. In the e-mail case, the cost to the senders is hardly anything.

    Introduce a cost, even a tiny, nominal one, to send e-mail, and the spammers' business model is totally and permanently destroyed.

     

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