All it takes is a lost laptop or BlackBerry device to put a manufacturer's proprietary information at risk. With company data so vulnerable and an increasing amount of accounting compliance requirements, the number of information security professionals employed worldwide in 2006 has grown 8.5% over last year, according to an IDC survey of 4,016 companies and public-sector organizations around the globe.

The greatest increase (10.6%) occurred in the Asia-Pacific region, which comprises 19.5% of the respondents. More than half the respondents (57.5%) come from the Americas where a 5.7% rise was realized, while the 22.8% of respondents that make up the Europe, Middle East and Africa region posted an 8.9% gain over 2005.

To combat potential security threats, companies are implementing such technologies as biometrics, wireless security, intrusion prevention and forensics tools. Respondents from each region rated biometrics as either the top or second-highest-used IT security technology. The most common applications for biometrics are physical access and an additional layer of authentication for IT-systems access, according to IDC. Forensics also has become a key component of information security programs. Forensics can supply the need for quick, decisive responses to security breaches and evidence preservation.

But protecting information requires more than just technology. Security professionals say their companies need to spend more time and attention on policies, processes and people to solve security problems, IDC reports. This includes ensuring management's support of security policies, technology users adhering to the requirements and qualified security staff.

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