UC researchers claim they've found spammers' vulnerability—yeah, right

Actual genuine spam.Researchers at UC-San Diego and UC-Berekely engaged in a discipline they’ve dubbed “spamalytics” believe they’ve identified a way to curb spam: cut off spammers’ ability to process credit card transactions. (Incidentally, how long will it be before the University of Phoenix awards Doctor of Spamalytics degrees?)

After setting out to receive as much spam as they could and then making over one hundred purchases through spam messages they received, the researchers found that the vast majority of spam-generated transactions are processed through three credit card payment processors in Denmark, Azerbaijan and Nevis, a small sovereign nation in the West Indies. Choke off spammers’ access to these financial interemediaries, they say, and you make it much harder for them to do business. 

Well, good luck with that, I say. I haven’t yet read the research paper published yesterday(PDF), only summary articles in the NYT and The Register. If the paper mentions how to go about limiting spammers’ access to these services, the articles don’t reveal what they are, exactly.

Reading between the lines, it seems the idea might be to pressure banks, those paragons of virtue, to refuse to accept the proceeds of transactions processed by these shady firms. But how would that pressure be applied? Public shaming? And would the necessity of switching banks really be that costly for the spammers, as the Times article asserts? Finally, how long until some sharpies establish banks specifically intended to service the accounts of businesses shunned by the “respectable” banks?

According to the Times article, spammers looked at in the study had to send 12.5 million messages to sell $100 worth of goods. These are people who don’t mind hearing “no” 12 million times before getting to a single “yes.” They could teach cockroaches a thing or two about survival and adaptation. 

Keep your smam filter on.