Two thirds of companies increased their spending on IT security in 2003, research has revealed.
According to a poll conducted by analyst Meta Group, companies have this year spent an average of 8 per cent of their IT budgets on security - up from 7.6 per cent in 2002, and only 3 per cent in 2001.
But security spending has been an isolated area of growth for most companies.
Security programmes have focused on employee education, business continuity and disaster recovery, according to Meta Group's 2004 Worldwide IT Benchmark Report.
Security professionals surveyed said current employees still pose the biggest threat to their IT systems, and that their main concern is malicious attacks from viruses and unauthorised access to systems.
Meta Group executive vice president, Dr Howard Rubin, said the survey also showed an increase in development activity.
"Because of tightened budgets, more emphasis was placed on integrating and extending existing applications rather than implementing new packaged applications," he said.
The IT executives blamed tight budgets on weak profits and current financial conditions. A substantial number added that IT infrastructure and capacity are currently sufficient, so only limited spending is required.
But next year may see more spending in some sectors, predicted Rubin. "We expect insurance and manufacturing companies to see significant gains in IT spending," he said.
"These are the sectors where we have seen the most efficient and effective cost-cutting measures in the last three years. These companies are positioned to take advantage of new opportunities because they have become more agile during the lean years."
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