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Why do spammers spam?

“A fair question, and one that in recent weeks has been much on my mind.” — Monty Python

Sun Tzu, if still alive (and doubtless astonishing both himself and his descendants), would say something like: In order to understand the spam problem, first it is necessary to understand the spammer.

Short of capturing one alive and studying it under laboratory conditions (and of course euthanased afterwards), we must study its mind, as daunting a prospect as that must sound. You'll find Ebola-proof zoot-suits over near the door; please incinerate them afterwards (the togs I mean, not the subjects, although I suppose that their toxic remains must be safely disposed of as well).

We can only guess at their motives, as dissecting their reptilian brains tends to render them lifeless, and exhibiting little intelligence they would be impervious to psychoanalysis. We can, however, observe their behaviour like any other creature, and how they react to external stimuli etc.

What makes them act so anti-socially? Greed, stupidity, laziness, your guess is as good as mine; ask a criminal. Until one can be caught and can actually communicate in some way we can only hypothesise as to its motives.

They are not driven by rational economics as we know it; they didn't pay for the hardware that they have stolen, nor for the network charges that are being incurred in the sending victim's name; in fact, they don't even care about how polluted their lists are. It also explains why they deliver to non-existent addresses; if they go to a “catch-all” address then it counts as a delivery, see? And if the recipient actually gets sucked in by their shtick (I hope that's the right word, Shmuel) then so much the better. There is a theory that undeliverable addesses are used to probe defences e.g. is this hijacked computer on any lists etc.

They get paid per successful delivery by their criminal masters, whether to eyeballs or not, so there is no such thing as the “Cost of Doing Business” as we know it. This is why their lists are never cleaned, and why unsubscription requests only make things worse; it confirms that a pair of Mk-I eyeballs actually saw it, and this makes the victim's address all the more valuable in their twisted economy.

To be continued… Mention spambots (courtesy of SDLU bod), etc.

Go here if you're feeling lucky; go here if you are a filthy spammer and wish to be added to my oubliette.

Wander back here for my home page.

Dave Horsfall DTM (VK2KFU)
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