Demand for qualified IT security staff is growing fast, with the global total of professionals expected to increase to 2.1 million by 2008 at a compound annual growth rate of 13.7 per cent from 2003.
Based on primary and secondary research, analyst firm IDC estimates the number of information security professionals worldwide to be 1.3 million, a 14.5 per cent increase over 2003.
According to the IDC study, this represents growth rates of 12 per cent for the Americas, 11.4 per cent in Europe and 18.3 per cent in Asia Pacific.
Allan Carey, the IDC analyst who led the study, said that new technologies, government regulations and a dynamic threat environment are driving the growth of the profession.
"With competing demands on industry and government to expand access to services and information, the highly trained and experienced information security professional must now be an active participant to fulfil stringent regulatory requirements and provide proactive solutions to circumvent emerging risks," he said.
"Organisations are beginning to understand that it's the people, processes, policies and technology that create effective security, not technology solutions alone."
The report, commissioned by the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium, also found that 93 per cent of managers hiring security staff cited certifications as important when staffing decisions are being made.
Respondents indicated that certifications afford some level of guarantee as to an individual's competency or knowledge level, and could therefore be critical in terms of legal liability or corporate due diligence.
"The Security Certification Consortium chartered IDC to conduct this study to offer the industry and society a clearer picture of what has become an enormously significant profession in a very short time," said James E Duffy, president and chief executive of the Consortium.
"The rate at which this profession has evolved is a testament to the increasingly complex demands placed on information security professionals and the critical role they play in the global information economy."
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