As if we needed more validation that we are living in an information security crisis, two reports emerged just days before security gurus are set to gather for the annual RSA Conference in San Francisco.

Based on the findings published in these reports, the biggest information security show in the world couldn't come at a better time.

So far this year, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center, the number of data breaches has doubled over the same period last year.

And what I'm noticing as a writer covering these events is that they are not your average lose-a-laptop-type events. To the contrary, many breaches this year have been sophisticated hacker attacks.

But the most troubling figures to surface this week come out of the 2007 Internet Crime Report, published by the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), a joint operation between the FBI and National White Collar Crime Center.

The report shows that IC3 referred more than 90,000 complaints to law enforcement last year, totaling about $240 million in reported losses. That's $40 million more than the previous year.

$40 million more!

While the complaints did include age-old crimes such as non-delivery of purchases, they also involved computer attacks, spam and credit and debit card fraud.

Clearly, there's a lot of work to be done. RSA will help.

There will be scores of educational sessions that will touch on every possible IT security topic, ranging from website attacks to forensic investigations to securing the 2008 election to corporate espionage to the debate over a national data breach notification law.

There also will be scores of vendors, each pushing a product or service that might be able to help. Yes, the marketing folks might annoy you as you browse the floor. But as always, the RSA expo is a good indicator of where the threat landscape is heading.

(Plus, I'm sure some of the booths will have beer and food).

If I could offer one piece of advice for RSA - this will be my third year, so now I feel I can offer at least one tidbit of advice - it would be to make friends with your peers. Exchange ideas. Talk about what's working and what's not. Talk about a breach that may have happened to you. Talk about how you responded.

As a reporter, I regularly have to awkwardly approach people to chat about things. It seems instinctively wrong but don't get anxiety over it. Everybody wants to talk and meet people as well.

Chances are, you'll get more out of collaborating with your peers than you will in any session or any booth.

Yes, even the ones with beer.