Now You Know

Scientists Find Choke Point That Could End SPAM

This is a study that I believe will interest everyone: a team of computer scientists at two University of California campuses have identified what they call the “choke point” that, if applied, will greatly reduce the flow of spam — or even stop it.

For 3 months, they set out to purposefully receive all the spam they could, even bought items from the merchants advertised and identified that 95% of the credit-card transactions worldwide were handled by… 3 financial companies. If the 3 financial companies stopped processing the spammers, they’re toast.

If a handful of companies like these refused to authorize online credit card payments to the merchants, “you’d cut off the money that supports the entire spam enterprise,” said one of the scientists, Stefan Savage of the University of California, San Diego, who worked with colleagues at San Diego and Berkeley and at the International Computer Science Institute.

Though most banks already refuse to work with shady merchants, not all financial companies are willing to cooperate to stop the flow of spam. Interestingly, when asked, Visa, the largest credit card company, declined to comment.

You can download the study here [pdf].

Read more about this revealing study at: nytimes.