More than 10% of IT security for business will be delivered in the cloud by 2015, according to a prediction from Gartner in a new report on the subject.

The IT analyst is forecasting that the worldwide market for cloud based security services will hit $4.2 billion (£2.7 billion) by 2016, as they affect key areas such as secure email and web gateways, remote vulnerability assessment and identity and access management.

A Gartner survey conducted in January, and covering companies of different sizes and sectors in Europe and the US, showed that 74% rated secure email as the top cloud security service.

Compliance with payment card industry standards prompted 27% to consider tokenisation – in which credit card details are replaced by different digits and symbols during an online transaction - as a cloud service. Gartner also highlights a growing interest in security information and event management as a service.

"Demand remains high from buyers looking to cloud based security services to address a lack of staff or skills, reduce costs, or comply with security regulations quickly," said Eric Ahlm, Research Director at Gartner.

"This shift in buying behavior from the more traditional on-premises equipment toward cloud based delivery models offers good opportunities for technology and service providers with cloud delivery capabilities, but those without such capabilities need to act quickly to adapt to this competitive threat."