The New York Times picked up the ongoing story of botnets, networks of computers that spammers and other miscreants have taken over:
According to the annual intelligence report of MessageLabs, a New York-based computer security firm, more than 80 percent of all spam now originates from botnets. Last month, for the first time ever, a single Internet service provider generated more than one billion spam e-mail messages in a 24-hour period, according to a ranking system maintained by Trend Micro, the computer security firm. That indicated that machines of the service providers' customers had been woven into a giant network, with a single control point using them to pump out spam.
Users, ISPs, users, software vendors, and users contribute to the problem:
Serry Winkler, a sales representative in Denver, said that she had turned off the network-security software provided by her Internet service provider because it slowed performance to a crawl on her PC, which was running Windows 98. A few months ago four sheriff’s deputies pounded on her apartment door to confiscate the PC, which they said was being used to order goods from Sears with a stolen credit card. The computer, it turned out, had been commandeered by an intruder who was using it remotely.
Note that Winkler's computer probably ran slowly because it had already gotten infected, and the ISP's security software had a lot of work to do because of this.
At least with the Times picking up the story, perhaps more people will notice.