Click Trajectories: End-to-End Analysis of the Spam Value Chain

TitleClick Trajectories: End-to-End Analysis of the Spam Value Chain
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsLevchenko, K., Pitsillidis A., Chachra N., Enright B., Felegyhazi M., Grier C., Halvorson T., Kanich C., Kreibich C., Liu H., McCoy D., Weaver N., Paxson V., Voelker G. M., & Savage S.
Other Numbers3109

Spam-based advertising is a business. While ithas engendered both widespread antipathy and a multi-billiondollar anti-spam industry, it continues to exist because it fuels aprofitable enterprise. We lack, however, a solid understandingof this enterprise’s full structure, and thus most anti-spaminterventions focus on only one facet of the overall spam valuechain (e.g., spam filtering, URL blacklisting, site takedown).In this paper we present a holistic analysis that quantifiesthe full set of resources employed to monetize spam email—including naming, hosting, payment and fulfillment—usingextensive measurements of three months of diverse spam data,broad crawling of naming and hosting infrastructures, andover 100 purchases from spam-advertised sites. We relate theseresources to the organizations who administer them and thenuse this data to characterize the relative prospects for defensiveinterventions at each link in the spam value chain. In particular,we provide the first strong evidence of payment bottlenecks in


This work was partially supported by funding provided to ICSI through National Science Foundation grants CNS: 0433702 (“Cybertrust: Center for Internet Epidemiology and Defenses [CCIED]”) and CNS: 0905631 ("Invigorating Empirical Network Research via Mediated Trace Analysis"). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors or originators and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

Bibliographic Notes

Proceedings of the IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy, pp. 431-446, Oakland, California

Abbreviated Authors

K. Levchenko, A. Pitsillidis, N. Chachra, B. Enright, M. Felegyhazi, C. Grier, T. Halvorson, C. Kanich, C. Kreibich, H. Liu, D. McCoy, N. Weaver, V. Paxson, G. M. Voelker, and S. Savage

ICSI Research Group

Networking and Security

ICSI Publication Type

Article in conference proceedings