Click Trajectories: End-to-End Analysis of the Spam Value Chain

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Executive Summary

Spam-based advertising is a business. While it has engendered both widespread antipathy and a multi-billion dollar anti-spam industry, it continues to exist because it fuels a profitable enterprise. The authors lack, however, a solid understanding of this enterprise's full structure, and thus most anti-spam interventions focus on only one facet of the overall spam value chain (e.g., spam filtering, URL blacklisting, site takedown). In this paper, they present a holistic analysis that quantifies the full set of resources employed to monetize spam email - including naming, hosting, payment and fulfillment - using extensive measurements of three months of diverse spam data, broad crawling of naming and hosting infrastructures, and over 100 purchases from spam-advertised sites.

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