While the financial media hasn’t really paid this story the attention it deserves, one of the more important technology finance stories in 2006 may yet turn out to be botnet stock spam. Estimates vary, but it is possible that as much as half of the current explosion in email spam — it’s up more than 50% just in the last few months — is driven by Russian botnets (networks of hijacked personal computers sending spam) touting illiquid penny stocks.
Why do it? Because it works, but those studies from earlier this year are already dated. Spammer techniques have moved on, with there being ample reason to expect that the success rate of individual stock spam messages is increasing as spammers improve their techniques. Where a year ago they relied mostly on text spam, now spammers are embedding images in spam, greatly increasing the likelihood their messages get through.
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