Security spending is buoyant despite the overall downturn, according to analyst house IDC.
At its business security conference in London the company published preliminary results of a survey that showed IT security spending to be currently worth $6bn (£3.9bn), and set to double over the next five years.
"We were surprised that in a software market where single-digit growth is the norm security software spending is up 18 per cent," said Christian Christiansen, program vice president of IDC Security Software.
"If you don't have security there is little chance of successfully building an online business," he added.
But government security spending, touted earlier in the year as a major growth driver, has proved to be a damp squib.
"There will be no increases in IT security spending from the US government until at least 2004," said Christiansen. "All the money is going on gates, guns, guards and dogs.
"The new Office of Homeland Security in the US can't even decide if it is to be unionised or not, let alone working out how to better link online information. I don't believe there will be significant spending, although others disagree."
Overall, IDC found the security market to be maturing. Antivirus and firewall software is reaching saturation point for businesses. This has led to consolidation among providers, with many smaller firewall producers pulling out of the market.
In contrast firewall hardware sales grew 35 per cent from last year. This is due to there being such a large range of products on offer, from multi-GB devices for £50,000 to £300 home hardware popular with home digital subscriber line users.
Managed antivirus services also look set for a period of sustained growth. "We've seen a real sea change in the last four months," said Richard Archdeacon, UK director of services for Symantec.
"A lot of companies have had their fingers burnt over the last few years, when venture capitalist-funded companies went to the wall.
"Now companies - most of whom have overseas offices that need to be included - are looking for managed services to make sure they are protected, and they are turning to established companies to do it."
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