Researchers analyzing spam operations found that they are run like any other business, albeit an illegal one, and rely on banks' merchant services to function.

“Most Malware Tied to ‘Pay-Per-Install’ Market”
June 9, 2011  |  Brian Krebs, MIT Technology Review

New research suggests that the majority of personal computers infected with malicious software may have arrived at that state thanks to a bustling underground market that matches criminal gangs who pay for malware installations with enterprising hackers looking to sell access to compromised PCs. Pay-per-install (PPI) services are advertised on shadowy underground Web forums. Clients submit their malware—a spambot, fake antivirus software, or password-stealing Trojan—to the PPI service, which in turn charges rates from $7 to $180 per thousand successful installations, depending on the requested geographic location of the desired victims.

“Spam as a Business"
June 9, 2011  |  Bruce Schneier, Schneier on Security

Interesting research: Kirill Levchenko, et al. (2010), "Click Trajectories -- End-to-End Analysis of the Spam Value Chain," IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy 2011, Oakland, California, 24 May 2011.

“Enterprises Not Ready for IPv6”
June 7, 2011 | Andy Dornan, InformationWeek

On Tuesday night, the world's largest carrier's providers and websites are switching on IPv6, the next-generation Internet protocol that's needed to deal with the looming address shortage. Most enterprise networks aren't ready, according to a survey from trade association CompTIA, which found that only 23% of business IT departments in the U.S. have actually begun to implement the new protocol.

“Battling to Protect Online Privacy and Defeat Spam"
May 25, 2011  |  Tekla Perry, IEEE Spectrum, Tech Talk Blog

Looks like it’s a lot harder to protect privacy than I thought. That’s my impression after spending a day at the IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy, held this week in Berkeley, Calif. I knew privacy protection is not something I can take for granted when using Facebook or Google (more on that coming up in Spectrum’s June special issue on social networks and the Web).

“3 Banks Service Majority of Spam-Driven Sales"
May 25, 2011  |  Mathew J. Schwartz, InformationWeek

The majority of the world's spam-driven sales are serviced by just three banks. That surprise finding comes from a new paper that literally "follows the money" for global spam. The paper, to be delivered at next week's IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy 2011 in Oakland, Calif., is credited to 15 researchers from four institutions--the University of California at Berkeley, University of California at San Diego, the International Computer Science Institute, and Budapest University of Technology and Economics.

“Secret to Stopping Spam: Follow the Money"
May 23, 2011  |  Larry Greenemeier, Scientific American

Spam comprises upward of 80 percent of incoming e-mail, despite monumental efforts by help desks and security software companies to defeat it. The reason spam volumes continue to grow is that such efforts are often misplaced and fail to hit spammers where it hurts.

“Credit Processors Targeted in Fight Against Spam"
May 23, 2011  |  John Leyden, The Register

Computer scientists are advocating the targeting of card-processing middlemen as a way of clamping down on spam. Improving spam filters and takedown efforts against botnets, the main source of the vast majority of junk mail, have been among the main focus of spam fighters of late. Computer researchers at the University of California, San Diego and University of California, Berkeley are taking a slightly different tack in the fight against junk mail, targeting the small number of firms prepared to handle credit card transactions for spamvertised websites.

“Credit Card Companies Could Stop Spam Now, But Will They?"
May 23, 2011  |  Paul Wagenseil,

For more than a decade, computer software makers and security experts have tried to stop spam, and failed. It's now 90 percent of all email traffic. But some University of California researchers may have found the magic bullet : Simply cut off the money.

Anatomy of a Spam Viagra Purchase
May 20, 2011  |  David Talbot, MIT Technology Review

A sample of spam transactions finds most pass through just three banks, study finds.