CipherTrust on the prowl for new technology

Email security firm CipherTrust would like to go on the acquisition trail - if it doesn't get snapped up by a bigger company itself

Enterprise security vendor CipherTrust's CEO has said he may look at buying a URL filtering or an IM security company to help expand its range of services; analyst firm ButlerGroup believes the company is more likely to become the prey rather than the predator.

The enterprise security market is complex and within the email and Internet content area, large companies require a wide variety of products that include antivirus, anti-spam, URL filtering, instant messaging (IM) and a firewall (anti-hacking).

Steve Raber, chief executive of CipherTrust, told ZDNet UK that the company is thinking about moving into the URL and IM filtering market and will either develop the technology in-house or to purchase it from another company.

"You always have a choice of either building it or buying it -- and we are not predisposed to only building it. My current thinking is that if we do buy, it is mostly for technology's sake. I don't see CipherTrust combining with a competitor for market penetration," Raber said.

However, ButlerGroup's senior research analyst, Andy Kellett, said that because the email security market is packed with relatively small companies, all with very similar product offerings, companies that are doing well such as CipherTrust could themselves become acquisition targets for more established security companies.

"It is a very busy marketplace and there isn't a lot to differentiate between the leading players -- whether you are talking about IronPort, or CipherTrust's Ironmail product. It would be very difficult to say one or another is the market leader in this space because I don't think there is one. I see them as more targets than actually doing the targeting," Kellett said.

But CypherTrust's CEO Raber said that despite signs that the email security market's consolidation has already started, he is confident that CipherTrust will survive.

"There are some companies that show up too late and fall by the wayside after muddling along at $5m a year. Some will become part of larger companies -- we just saw BrightMail become part of Symantec -- but some will reach a critical mass in a new space and can be free-standing public companies," Raber said.

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