"Frustration" can pretty much sum up the feeling of Internet users in 2003 as the IT sector scrambled to thwart a barrage of hacks, attacks and flaws that compromised networked computers around the globe.

According to online encryption firm RSA Security, the outlook for easing those frustrations in 2004 is not very encouraging.

As part of its second annual "Internet Insecurity Index", the Bedford, Mass.-based company's overall rating for 2004 is a "7", indicating the landscape for information security has worsened slightly from 2003, which ranked about a "6". A higher score equates to a higher level of insecurity.

While not a precise scientific gauge, the simple one-to-ten scale measures how secure electronic data is each year.

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