Despite a continued slow down in IT spending, a new study shows that network security spending is on the rise -- even cutting a large chunk out of the overall IT budget.

Increased use of the Internet, along with reaction to corporate security breaches, are leading the list reasons for companies to boost their security, according to a new study by Framingham, Mass.-based analyst firm IDC. Security spending, IDC predicts, will contribute to increased IT budgets in 2003.

"Despite the economic environment, the prospects for security technologies are optimistic," says Lucie Draper, program manager for IDC's Enterprise Technology Trends Research unit. "Financial losses are virtually certain if there are failing security standards, so it makes sense for companies to maximize their opportunity and not wait until the market rebounds to procure these technologies."

IDC's study, which is based on a survey of 883 North American IT and business executives, also shows that as companies turn to Web services, they're more likely to increase their network security. Two-thirds of companies surveyed reported that the adoption of Web services has a high impact on security deployment.

IDC analysts say there is a special security focus on Web services because they're still not an established concept. Add on to that the fact that many of the applications that are exposed to a Web services environment are customer-facing, business-critical applications so they have to remain secure.

Information security spending in the U.S., according to IDC's report, will see strongest growth in hardware for biometrics and token smart cards. At the same time, security management services, consulting and implementation services will continue to see healthy growth and will combine to account for the largest share of the IT security budget.