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Fridges and household appliances may be the future victims of PC-related bugs.

Russian anti-virus company Kaspersky Lab is warning that in a few years Internet-connected microwaves and freezers will be prime targets for virus creators.

Viruses could be designed to make your fridge door swing open in the middle of the night - only to be discovered the next morning, or your central heating come on in summer. In fact any device with a Web connection could become infected.

"The Internet is developing so quickly, that if you don't pay enough attention to security you face being attacked by viruses," said Ian Hale, UK MD of Kaspersky Lab. "As technology advances, so will the problems."

The company said the next phase of viruses would hit mobile phones and wireless platforms. The Russian outfit exposed the first mobile phone email virus earlier this month.

Eugene Kaspersky, head of anti-virus research at Kaspersky's labs in Moscow, said research was currently exploring anti-virus WAP software.

Codenamed Prague, he said the system, still in its very early stages, "allows us to easily move the applications of our software to other platforms - including mobiles phones and PDAs". Mobile phone viruses, like the worm version which spammed phones at random two weeks ago, are relatively new. They have not done any major damage - nowhere near the monster proportions seen by the recent ILoveYou virus - yet.

"As soon as virus presenters get access to development tools to develop these programmes - they will be able to target mobile phones," said Kaspersky.

"Anti-virus companies have to move software from PC platforms to mobile platforms."

A potential target for household appliance viruses emerged this week with the announcement of LG Electronics digital fridge. It has been developed to allow users to order groceries online. The "Internet Digital Dios Refrigerator" is due for release this month.

"Refrigerator will not be just a food-storing box," an LG representative told the Korea Herald. "It will serve as a communications and entertainment tool for housewives as they do kitchen work." ®

  • Yesterday the FBI said it had launched an investigation into an email virus said to have hit email systems at several major US companies. The "Stages of Life" worm, which masquerades as a text file, acts like the ILoveYou virus in that it forwards itself to everyone in the user's Outlook address book if the attachment is opened.

It poses as a humorous file, and appears with a subject which contains the words "funny", "life stages", or "jokes". ®

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