Check Point makes major mobile move with $80m Lacoon acquistion

The firewall veteran hopes Tel Aviv's Lacoon Security will help grow its mobile security business

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The Lacoon team on the roof of its Tel Aviv headquarters Image: Lacoon

Like many other veterans of the PC era, security company Check Point has found that its market domination in the server room doesn't necessarily translate into leadership on other platforms, like mobile.

To help with that, Check Point announced Thursday that it was acquiring fellow Israeli security company Lacoon, which specializes in mobile. Reports said that Check Point was paying about $80m for Lacoon, but neither company would comment on the sale price.

Like other behavior-based security products, Lacoon uses the cloud to evaluate behavior on a device (both Android and iOS are covered), alerting headquarters if something seems amiss. The data is compared to other reports and the Lacoon database of threats, enabling the system to detect and identify zero-day attacks, APTs, malicious apps, malware, botnets, rootkits, and the like.

If a problem is detected, the system can enable a VPN or immediately institute new rules that will keep the threat at bay, preventing infected users from connecting to the enterprise network and offloading malware.

The company has a great deal of information about the most advanced attacks, with the system identifying threats like Android installer hijacking, using 'safe' apps to piggyback the installation of malware onto a phone on their first day out.

Lacoon also made headlines several months ago when it reported that Chinese authorities were using the Xsser mRAT remote administration tool to spy on activists in Hong Kong who were demanding democratic representation.

According to the company, Android users were targeted when they responded to a WhatsApp message about upcoming protests. "After the victim presses the link in the WhatsApp message, an .apk file is downloaded," a blog post by the company said.

"Once the user attempts to install the apk, the user is presented with a an extensive permissions list that the apk needs," the researchers wrote. "When the user first opens the app, a dialog box will prompt the user to update the app with the text 'Application updates, please click to install.' If the user agrees, the app is updated and the espionage capabilities are activated, otherwise the application closes."

Lacoon was founded in 2011 by veterans of the Israeli Army's 8200 intelligence defense corps, and has operations in Tel Aviv and San Francisco.

"Mobility has become the norm in business operations now more than ever before, because it enables employee productivity with anytime, anywhere access," Gil Shwed, CEO and chairman of Check Point, said.

"However, companies are not necessarily protecting the data on mobile devices properly. Traditional MDM strategies acknowledge the existence of mobile devices, but miss an important factor: protecting those devices, and the data on them, from threats. The addition of Lacoon, the leader in mobile threat prevention, would allow us to provide our customers the most complete mobile security solution on the market."

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