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USENIX, The Advanced Computing Systems Association

16th USENIX Security Symposium Abstract

Pp. 135148 of the Proceedings

Spamscatter: Characterizing Internet Scam Hosting Infrastructure

David S. Anderson, Chris Fleizach, Stefan Savage, and Geoffrey M. Voelker, University of California, San Diego


Unsolicited bulk e-mail, or SPAM, is a means to an end. For virtually all such messages, the intent is to attract the recipient into entering a commercial transaction -- typically via a linked Web site. While the prodigious infrastructure used to pump out billions of such solicitations is essential, the engine driving this process is ultimately the ``point-of-sale'' -- the various money-making ``scams'' that extract value from Internet users. In the hopes of better understanding the business pressures exerted on spammers, this paper focuses squarely on the Internet infrastructure used to host and support such scams. We describe an opportunistic measurement technique called spamscatter that mines emails in real-time, follows the embedded link structure and automatically clusters the destination Web sites using image shingling to capture graphical similarity between rendered sites. We have implemented this approach on a large real-time spam feed (over 1M messages per week) and have identified and analyzed over 2,000 distinct scams on 7,000 distinct servers.
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Last changed: 20 Sept. 2007 ac