Vancouver, CANADA--Spammers that target a particular company's stock can generally reap a small profit, according to an analysis by two academic researchers presented on Thursday at the CanSecWest Security Conference.
The study analyzed almost 22,000 messages--about 3 percent of the total spam received by a group of specially created accounts between November 2004 and February 2006--targeting 391 different stocks, said Thorsten Holz, a graduate student at the Laboratory for Dependable Distributed Systems at University of Mannheim in Germany. The stock-related spam almost always arrived on a weekday and exclusively targeted small- and micro-cap stocks, he said.
Holz and his co-author, Rainer Böhme of the Technische Universität Dresden, found that the price of the 93 stocks for which they could find historical data rose an average of 1.7 percent on the day that one or more e-mail messages referenced the stock. The following day, the stock price declined 0.9 percent on average, but rose by the same amount on the second day after the spam had been received. A higher volume of spam targeting a particular stock generally resulted in a greater increase in the price of that stock, the researchers found.
While the study may be the first to attempt to document the influence that bulk e-mail messages can have on stock price, previous studies have linked other events and the stock price of certain companies. In a paper published last year, researchers found the disclosure of a vulnerability can decrease the stock price of the software maker in whose product the flaw occurred.
The Securities and Exchange Commission has previously cracked down on "pump and dump" stock schemes that use spam to try to increase the price of stocks.
Posted by: Robert Lemos