May 26, 2006

How much is all my email worth?

I have a research question. How much is all my email worth? As a risk / threat / management question.

Of course, that's a difficult thing to price. Normally we would price a thing by checking the market for the thing. So what market deals with such things?

We could look at the various black markets but they are more focussed on specific things not massive data. Sorry, bad guys, not your day.

Alternatively, let's look at the US data brokers market. There, lots and lots of data is shared without necessarily concentrating on tiny pickings like credit theft identifiers. (Some of it you might know about, and you may even be rewarded for some of it. Much is just plain stolen out of sight. But that's not today's question.) So how much would one of those data broker's pay for *full* access to my mailbox?

Let's assume I'm a standard boring rich country middle class worker bee.

Another way to look at this is to look at google. It makes most of the money in advertising, and it does this on the tiny hook of your search query. It is also experimenting with "catalogue your hard drive" products (as with Apple's spotlight and no doubt Microsoft and Yahoo are hyperventilating over this already). So it must have a view as to the value of *everything*.

So, what would it be worth to those companies to *sell* the entire monitoring contents of my email, etc, for a year to Yahoo, Google, Microsoft, or Apple? Imagine a market where instead of credit card offers to my dog clogging up mailbox, I get data sharing agreements from the big friendly net media conglomerates.

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Today's only, Iang's emails, buy one, get two free.

Does anyone know any data brokers? Does anyone have hooks into google that can estimate this?

Posted by iang at May 26, 2006 06:43 AM | TrackBack

Its called a pink contract at least part of it is. The pink technically allows spam to pass not blocked by the ISP or the email server. $39.95 per million from Bulk Email Superstore What the cost for purchasing the email from Google is unknown but the exstraction of emails from the web is easy and combinations of emails to a specific address type such as can if a pink contract is place will garner a refined sort of viable emails. To narrow that down to specific demographics is even easier. Go to or other sites. So the rich worker bee will be spamed or have their email harvested for other purposes by process of elimination and culling by geographic demographics.

Posted by: Jimbo at May 26, 2006 07:09 AM

I realize that you wanted the actual emails but you first need to know the email and the person attributed to it. Once that is achieved you can selectively request the information from the people managing the e-mail server. Purchasing emails contents (the actual emails sent and received) could be tricky and I doubt anything other than one off requests exist but in case you find someone I have a list I'd like checked.

Posted by: Jimbo at May 26, 2006 07:33 AM

OK, so one would have to figure out the cost of the one-off individual research query directed to the mailserver ISP. Good point, I never thought of going to the repository. Another possibility is that eBay might be a better place to price ones head than a google advert. I can save you the trouble of paying for that info, she's with me now. Might be a great business opportunity here.

Posted by: Iang at May 26, 2006 07:39 AM

If it's a risk management question, shouldn't you be valuing it at replacement cost?

Posted by: Beryllium Sphere LLLC at May 27, 2006 02:48 AM

(thinks...) could be...

I think I am assuming that it is hard to value it from my point of view. Instead, I'm valuing it from the attacker's point of view.

If I can do that, then I am faced with a binary choice: if the value to the attacker is higher than to me, I just sell it at that price. If the value is less, I protect it. I don't actually need to value it precisely, just know if it is more or less.

(Actually, I am looking at this for another reason - in discussions on email encryption, it has been asserted that the benefit of protecting most email is zero. I think it is above that, but I can't show it. So I'm looking for a value number.)

Posted by: Iang at May 27, 2006 06:29 AM

The software code which provides real authentication, within a device that provides the individual the ability to reliably compose a message, is worth more than gold. It is better than the entire edifice of banks, or the systems of title to land or stock ownership in governments and treasuries. So where the HELL is it, and what's taking so god damned long? We should get 50 or 100 patriots together, rent a barn somewhere and build it. Not for the money, but for the principle of it. Listen to the whole hour:

Posted by: Todd at May 28, 2006 03:57 PM
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