Priceless: The Role of Payments in Abuse-Advertised Goods

TitlePriceless: The Role of Payments in Abuse-Advertised Goods
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsMcCoy, D., Dharmdasani H., Kreibich C., Voelker G. M., & Savage S.
Other Numbers3335

Large-scale abusive advertising is a profit-driven endeavor. Withoutconsumers purchasing spam-advertised Viagra, search-advertisedcounterfeit software or malware-advertised fake anti-virus, thesecampaigns could not be economically justified. Thus, in additionto the numerous efforts focused on identifying and blocking individualabusive advertising mechanisms, a parallel research directionhas emerged focused on undermining the associated meansof monetization: payment networks. In this paper we explain thecomplex role of payment processing in monetizing the modern affiliateprogram ecosystem and characterize the dynamics of thesebanking relationships over two years within the counterfeit pharmaceuticaland software sectors. By opportunistically combiningour own active purchasing data with contemporary disruption effortsby brand-holders and payment card networks, we gather thefirst empirical dataset concerning this approach. We discuss howwell such payment interventions work, how abusive merchants respondin kind and the role that the payments ecosystem is likely toplay in the future.


This work was partially supported by funding provided to ICSI through National Science Foundation grants CNS: 0433702 (“CCIED: Center for Internet Epidemiology and Defenses”) 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 19th ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Society (CCS 2012), pp. 845-856, Raleigh, North Carolina

Abbreviated Authors

D. McCoy, H. Dharmdasani, C. Kreibich, G. M. Voelker, and S. Savage

ICSI Research Group

Networking and Security

ICSI Publication Type

Article in conference proceedings