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One fifth of the world’s spam has been stopped. And you may have been helping send it.

Molly Wood Oct 28, 2010
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One fifth of the world’s spam has been stopped. And you may have been helping send it.

Molly Wood Oct 28, 2010
HTML EMBED:
COPY

When Russian cops raided the apartment of Igor Gustev, they may have put a stop to 20 percent of the spam email being circulated in the world today. That seems kind of hard to believe. One guy? But Gustev is said to be the operator of a website called SpamIt.com.

The way that site allegedly worked was that Gustev recruited spammers through the site to send billions of spams to potential customers of Gustev’s illegal online pharmacy. You know all those spams you get for Viagra that seem to link to a Canadian pharmacy? Allegedly, that’s Gustev. He would supposedly cut the spammers in 40 percent on every sale they brought in.

But Gustev was being busted for the illegal pharmacy, NOT the spamming. He didn’t send the actual spam. But the spammers he hired didn’t send the spam either. Instead, they operated botnets to do the actual spamming for them. They would trick ordinary people into clicking on links that would give them malware and that malware would secretly take over the computer, turning it into a spam generator. So those spams you get? YOU might be the one sending them.

We talk to veteran spam researcher Patrick Peterson, Chief Security Researcher at Cisco about how the operation works. We also interview Nicholas Christin from Carnegie Mellon University who tells us 75 percent of the email in the world is now spam.

Also on today’s show, a look inside the laboratory where they’re building the next Mars rover.

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