It's no news that the current economic situation has put a strain on companies' finances, but a recent survey aimed to quantify the toll the recession has taken on IT budgets.

A sixth annual survey, called “What keeps network administrators up at night” conducted in late April was commissioned by VanDyke Software and executed by survey research organization Amplitude Research. The survey of 320 network and system administrators nationwide found that 41 percent said their company's overall IT budget has decreased – compared to 18 percent last year. Some 21.2 percent saw their IT security budget decrease by more than 10 percent and 12.18 percent said their decrease was less than 10 percent, Steve Birnkrant, CEO of Amplitude Research told Wednesday.

In addition, nearly half (46 percent) of respondents said they believe their organization has not sufficiently budgeted to support their current information security needs.

Laptops and handheld devices had the most pronounced decline in satisfaction of security from prior year results. Last year, 67 percent of respondents reported being very or somewhat satisfied with the security of laptops, this year only 59 percent were. Also, last year 52 percent were very or somewhat satisfied with the security of their handheld devices, and this year just 37 percent were.

Respondents were asked to gauge the external factor that had the greatest impact on their information security plans. The choices were: homeland security; legislative drivers (such as HIPAA or SOX); customer, vendor, business partner requirements; the economy; or none of the above. Not surprisingly, the economy was most commonly cited as the greatest external factor, with 33 percent of the poll.

The survey also found that more than a quarter of companies (27 percent) have canceled IT security projects this year as a result of a perceived poor economy.

As for what keeps IT security professionals up at night -- the top answers were “None, I sleep like a baby” (35.2 percent); their own users (32.5 percent); and their recovery plan, or lack thereof (27.5 percent). Those who responded that they did not believe they were sufficiently budgeted to meet security needs were  less likely to “sleep like a baby.” Some 48 percent of those who said they were adequately budgeted, “slept like a baby” as opposed to just 22 percent who said they were not adequately budgeted, the survey found.

Ron Clarkson, director of endpoint for the enterprise at TrendMicro told in an email Wednesday that these findings are in line with what he's been hearing from customers over the past several months.

“Even those customers that are not faced with decreased budgets are trying to be proactive about saving money for their organization,” Clarkson said.

Clarkson added that the percentage of customers who are struggling with decreased budgets is “definitely” increasing over previous budget cycles, though he wouldn't go as far as saying a majority of customers are experiencing a decrease in IT security budgets.