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Posted in: Curtin University, News

Curtin University ‘spam  busters’ are making tomorrow  better by taking the fight to the illicit email and internet communications industry.

The Anti-Spam Research Lab headed by Vidy Potdar within Curtin’s Digital Ecosystems and Business Intelligence Institute researches the scale and cost of spam, and is devising ingenious ways to tackle it.

“We do research and try to develop new technologies that help stop spam and its associated problems such as fraud, scams, phishing attacks and cybercrimes,” Dr Potdar told Curtin News.   The lab started in 2008 and houses five researchers, as well as visiting professors, at its  Bentley technology park headquarters.

One common question the lab is trying to answer is: ‘do spammers actually make money?’      “We’ve found that they do,” Dr Potdar said.

After achieving ethical approvals, the lab recently posed as a spammer on blogs and forums, creating a website to promote mock pharmaceutical products.  Customer clicks were solicited via well-worn spamming tactics.

The lab will reveal that 7769 spam posts attracted 2059 visits to the site – an impressive click through rate of 26.5 per cent.

Based on common costs per click paid by advertisers, the spammers stood to gain between $2059 (if $1 per click was assumed) and $411.80 (at 20 cents per click) – not a bad result from just 7769 posts.

More disturbingly, three of the unsuspecting 2059 clickers created a user account and tried to buy product from the site before the lab shut the transaction down.

In a worst-case, real-world scenario, the payments would have gone straight into the pocket of the spammer with no product being provided in return.

“We’re looking at the behavioural patterns of spambots and humans such as the way they navigate from page A to page B within a website.    Currently, spammers just want to submit spam comment and leave, which differs from the pattern of genuine users.”

The most popular topics used in the spam communication analyzed in the forthcoming paper were adult themes (about 41 per cent), movies (31 per cent), free offers (15 per cent) and dating (12 per cent).

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Curtin University is located in Perth, Australia which is located on the west coast.   As a previous student said…”Curtin is a beautiful campus, there are tonnes of new buildings and greenery.   Perth is a city with amazing beaches.”  

For details on programs offered at Curtin, check out the Degree Search tab on the KOM website.