AT&T (NYSE:T) is without a doubt facing many challenges to its business, and therefore, it's been looking at some burgeoning areas for growth, such as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). In light of its recent measures, today's word that AT&T will further its journey into Internet-based security measures is probably not surprising, although how much of investors' attention it warrants at this point may be the question.

Today, AT&T said that it will further enhance its Internet Protect product early next year, with features that will allow its customers to avoid deploying firewalls at each of their locations. In addition, while AT&T's Internet Protect product previously alerted customers to viruses and worms, it now has the capability to eliminate worms and viruses before they breach corporate networks.

Given the fact that AT&T has focused its energy on wooing the business market (remember its recent moves out of the consumer market and long distance), this move is a logical one. Internet security is one of the most important areas today. Recent data from IDC says that IT security spending is expected to increase from 2.5% of all technology spending to 4% within the next four years.

According to The Wall Street Journal, AT&T's product will cut the cost of maintaining firewalls to protect against viruses and worms by 30% to 35%. The enhancement will turn AT&T's vast data network into a security product -- AT&T's ace in the hole, securitywise, is that it can monitor the massive amount of Internet traffic that runs on its own network.

This is all fine and good, as these factors illustrate an important and lucrative niche. On the other hand, though, today's news seems to be just a continuation of what most investors who follow AT&T already knew and expected, seeing how AT&T's Internet Protect and Personal Firewall products were originally announced back in March. Along with the product enhancement, AT&T disclosed two customers, Pitney Bowes (NYSE:PBI) and the U.S. Olympic Committee.

At any rate, given what we already know and the fact that this enhancement won't be available until the beginning of next year, today's news seems little more than an excuse to nod and move on.

Do you keep track of the latest Internet threats? Visit our Viruses, Hoaxes, & Spam, Oh My! discussion board to trade tips and information on making your computer equipment more secure.

Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.