An anonymous reader recommends Computerworld's look at the rise and fall of CAPTCHAs, and at some of the ways bad guys are leveraging broken CAPTCHAs to ply their evil trade. "CAPTCHA used to be an easy and useful way for Web administrators to authenticate users. Now it's an easy and useful way for malware authors and spammers to do their dirty work. By January 2008, Yahoo Mail's CAPTCHA had been cracked. Gmail was ripped open soon thereafter. Hotmail's top got popped in April. And then things got bad. There are now programs available online (no, we will not tell you where) that automate CAPTCHA attacks. You don't need to have any cracking skills. All you need is a desire to spread spam, make anonymous online attacks against your enemies, propagate malware or, in general, be an online jerk. And it's not just free e-mail sites that can be made to suffer..."