In the security popularity contest of the moment, Cisco and Juniper are down and Palo Alto Networks and Check Point are up when it comes to network firewalls, according to one research firm.Research firm TheInfoPro asked 182 IT security professionals -- said to hail from the Fortune 1000 companies -- about what security products they're using, what they're considering changing and where their priorities and budgets are for next year. In summing up the results, which TheInfoPro treats much like an enterprise security popularity meter, Palo Alto Networks has jumped over the past year from less than 1% in its poll to 4%.MORE ON SECURITY: The 'Dirty Dozen' of security-vulnerable smartphonesThough still top dog overall, Cisco, which two years ago had 55% of the hearts of the IT security managers in the poll, is now down to 40%, losing ground in network firewalls mainly to Check Point, now at 39%, and Palo Alto at 4%, with Juniper Networks at 11%. Other firewall vendors used by the enterprises include SonicWall, McAfee, Fortinet, WatchGuard, open source, Nortel, Nokia, Citrix and CA.According to Daniel Kennedy, research director for information security and networking at TheInfoPro, a division of 451 Group, "it's the application tracking" that's the big lure in today's firewall choices, and Palo Alto Networks, though only just beyond the startup phase with its application-aware firewall with this focus, is showing a clear pull in popularity.Palo Alto was named the "most exciting vendor" in the poll the research firm did for this study; FireEye came in second with its anti-botnet products, even though anti-botnet products per se were not rated to be very high on the list of immediate plans by the respondents.According to TheInfoPro report, entitled "Information Security Wave 14," about 37% of the poll respondents expect to see an increased security budget in 2012, with most others saying spending is expected to stay at current levels.Sourcefire and McAfee are reportedly the "top vendors respondents will spend more with in 2011." Data-loss prevention was considered a priority, and there Symantec led the pack. In its assessment of what security vendors are the "most vulnerable" to the possible loss of their existing customers, Fortinet topped the list.~~When it comes to endpoint anti-malware (antivirus\/anti-spam) protection in the enterprises of those security managers polled, Symantec wins the favor of 39%, McAfee 34%, Trend Micro is at 15%, Sophos at 5%, with the remainder a collection of several "others." Although Russia-based anti-malware firm Kaspersky Lab has been working hard to break into the enterprise market in a big way, Kennedy said he sees no evidence that this has yet happened in the North American market.Kennedy says researchers at TheInfoPro also discussed the topic of virtualization with the 182 IT security professionals, asking if they were concerned about it from a security point of view. He says many seem to be "up in the air" about decisions in this regard. "I'd say it's confused," says Kennedy. "They want to use their existing security in virtualized environments. Sometimes this seems to apply, other times not." He said many seem to be sorting out what to do, particularly in the terms of any anticipated cloud-security development.Read more about wide area network in Network World's Wide Area Network section.