A report published by IBM Security Intelligence Services confirms what many have feared for some time: that in the future computer viruses will spread to a far wider range of devices, such as mobile phones (seen already), cars, Voice over Internet (VoIP) phone systems, and much more. When powerful processors like the "Cell" find their way into more and more domestic electronic devices, such as TVs and microwaves, are we looking at a future where nearly every electronic device in the modern home will need anti-virus software?

There does seem to be light at the end of the tunnel in some respects, though, as people seem to be getting better at knowing about these kinds of issues, and dealing with them. But at the same time, computer virus code is getting smarter and harder to beat.

Watch out for viruses that spread to mobile phones, handheld computers, wireless networks and embedded computers which are increasingly used to run basic automobile functions, the 2004 year-end "Security Threats and Attack Trends Report" report warns. Then again, the readiness of individuals and companies to confront these challenges has also evolved, the study said.

"It's difficult to say whether we are moving to a steady state," Stuart McIrvine, director of IBM's security strategy, said in an interview. "The threats are increasing, but consumers and businesses are getting a lot smarter."