IT security staff are gaining more qualifications and more influence with the board, according to research from IDC.
The analyst firm's second annual Information Security Workforce report found that 73 per cent of information security professionals surveyed expected their influence with the board to increase in the coming year, and the figure was higher in Europe at 77 per cent.
"This year, professionals worldwide indicated that information security is now being perceived as a business enabler rather than a business expense," said Rolf Moulton, president of ISC2, a non-profit certification body for IT security staff which sponsored the research.
"As a result, they are increasingly being included in strategic discussions with the most senior levels of management, demonstrating that the competency of information security professionals is being recognised as the key to an effective security strategy."
The survey also showed that hardware costs are representing a smaller proportion of total IT spend, while personnel and education costs are set to take up 65 per cent of costs by next year.
IT professionals are also devoting more time and energy to educating themselves. Some 42 per cent of European information security professionals now have a master's degree, compared to 32 per cent in 2004. Over one in 10 globally have a doctorate, but this figure fell to just six per cent in Europe.
"This year's study shows that information security has become a critical component of the enterprise," said Allan Carey, the IDC analyst who led the study.
"Complex security solutions, regulatory requirements and encroaching threat advances are driving organisations to entrench security strategies and policies and rely on highly educated, highly qualified professionals.
"These professionals must perform an ever-growing list of activities such as threat mitigation, compliance auditing, and proactive security management and monitoring."
Overall the employment picture for the IT security industry is buoyant, with 1.4 million in work representing a nine per cent rise on last year.
IDC expects this number to increase to 1.9 million by 2009, a compound annual growth rate of 8.5 per cent.
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