Sunday's widespread blackout in Italy, following so closely on the heels of August's blackout in parts of the United States and Canada, seems to reinforce the need for business-continuity preparedness. Not to mention ongoing battles against worms, hackers, viruses and the everyday events that threaten to take down IT systems. Due to these ongoing threats, advisory firm IDC predicts that worldwide spending on security and business-continuity information technology will reach more than $116 billion by 2007 -- growing twice as fast as overall IT spending. "Corporate spending on security and business continuity has been held back by two factors -- uncertainty about the severity of risk posed by security threats and ongoing budget austerity," says John F. Gantz, chief research officer and senior vice president at Framingham, Mass.-based IDC. "However, any skepticism about the potential consequences of a security breach is fading fast as enterprises seek to improve their ability to manage organizational risk." Spending could surpass $70 billion by the end of 2003, IDC says, with much of the spending focused on immediate security needs. However, continued growth will be sustained by security demands required by privacy regulations including HIPAA. A complete IDC forecast for worldwide IT security and business continuity is available for purchase at www.idcresearch.com.