Inside the Mind of a Spammer

I've always thought of myself as hacker who chose to be a good guy and through the years I have become quite acquainted with spammers and hackers, their methodologies and their tricks. This morning when I received another pointless email for a free Marc Jacobs bag (which I would have really enjoyed) I decided it was time to revisit the methods behind those responsible for sending out these messages.

Spammers are motivated by money, its a simple numbers game. To put things in perspective, take a glance at the equation below. The more people that spammers reach, the more likely they are to increase profits. If they maximize their efforts, some spammers can make a six-figure salary in just a few months.

Spam profit equation:

X= # of people who see an offer

Y= % of people who act on an offer

Z= $ made per conversion

(X)(Y)(Z)= $$$$$

Assuming a small per purchase payout of only

$1:(10,000 people)  (1% conversion) ($1 per conversion) = $100

(10,000,000 people) (1% conversion)  ($1 per conversion) = $100,000

Successful spammers know their victims well and use psychology to choose their targets. Many spammers target weaknesses, using offers for gambling websites, pharmaceuticals, and easy-money schemes to lure their victims. Each click is a potential conversion in which a spammer is rewarded for their clever placement.

Spammers will act on any opportunity to increase personal revenue. They communicate with others, exchanging advice for optimal results and search for ways to automate the process so they can reach more people.The higher the conversion, the more money they make. They are masters at networking, and have no trouble exchanging information.

While spammers operate very strategically, it is important that businesses do the same. If you allow just anyone to comment, share, rate, or purchase products on your site, you may be inviting these spammers to target your business. If your website is experiencing spam issues, here are some recommendations that will help:

  • Require registration for users who want to communicate within your site
  • Require one verified phone number per account to be held on file
  • Require one verified email per account

The more information you require from your users, the less likely a spammer will be to engage. These are just a few ways in which spam can be prevented and stopped.

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