Security-related helpdesk calls are rising sharply with organisations planning to boost security spending next year to protect workers, new research shows.

The study, commissioned by Cisco this summer, surveyed the activities of over 1000 home workers, 1000 IT decision makers and spanned ten countries including the UK, US, France and Germany.

According to the research, 38 per cent of IT decision makers reported increases in security-related helpdesk calls, with blended spam and phishing attacks the most frequently recorded issue. More than half (52 per cent) of all IT respondents said the rise in helpdesk calls was related to this combined threat. Other issues reported included viruses infecting work devices, identity theft and hacking.

As a result, two of every three (67 per cent) IT respondents said they expect their security-related IT budgets to increase next year. Furthermore, 41 per cent of those surveyed predict security spending to jump by more than 10 per cent. In the UK, 61 per cent of workers felt IT investments would increase in 2007 with 33 per cent expecting a boost of more than 10 per cent.

According to Jeff Platon, vice president of security solutions marketing at Cisco, these results relate to the responses of the same workers who took part in two studies last month.

The previous studies showed that two-thirds of remote workers were aware of security concerns when working remotely, but still engaged in risky online behaviour. The research also found that employees felt their managers had more authority to control their use of corporate devices than IT staff.

Platon said: "The correlation between these results and the research released last month is hardly a coincidence. It's not surprising that IT is in a reactive mode fielding more helpdesk calls and spending more on security."

According to John Stewart, chief security officer at Cisco business leaders need a unified commitment to ensure a "security savvy culture." He said: "Technology is an important element in security, but security is first and foremost a human exercise. There's an interpersonal aspect that involves communication and an unwavering commitment to education, training and acknowledgment.

"Combine strong IT-user relationships with technology solutions, and IT transforms into a strategic, consultative presence that drives the formation of a security-conscious corporate culture."