A Robot Network Seeks to Enlist Your Computer
That's about how long it took for one of Microsoft's test computers to be infected when their in-house cybercrime investigators connected it to the Internet.
Typically, when used in such a scenario investigators like those at Microsoft setup the machines without any patches, services packs, or antivirus software. The idea is to get the computers infected on purpose and in doing so, to help the investigators track who's taking control of the computers and what their intents are.
The article on botnets in the New York Times goes on to describe how these computers are used. Most commonly, an infected computer, known as a "zombie" becomes a part of a "botnet".
Such botnets can then be used for almost any purpose from sending bulk email to stealing credit card numbers and personal information--and sometimes even for storing these ill gotten gains.
The solutions to these problems--and protecting your data online--remain unchanged:
Install the best anti virus software Install a modern software firewall Keep your computer patched and up-to-date