McAfee acquires network security firm Stonesoft for $389M in enterprise push

Summary:The acquisition will help bolster McAfee's position in network security, which could be a further in-road to the enterprise where such solutions are absolutely vital. It also gives Intel a lucrative side project away from the ailing PC market.

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Intel bought out McAfee in 2010. Image: CNET

Antivirus maker McAfee said today it will acquire Finnish security firm Stonesoft for a hearty $389 million in cash, in order to bolster its position in the network security market. 

McAfee, which is owned by Intel, said in a statement that it expects to "extent its leadership position in network security," making a further push towards the enterprise, where much of the money in network security lies.

Helsinki, Finland-based Stonesoft makes software designed to simplify network security. It builds firewalls, evasion prevention systems and secure-socket layer (SSL) virtual private networking solutions for off-site corporate network access.

Stonesoft has more than 6,500 customers globally, and will be integrated with McAfee's own customer base — which of course means Intel's customer base. McAfee was bought out by Intel in 2010.

Without needing to read between the lines, McAfee outright states what its rationale is behind the pending acquisition. But if we did, the antivirus maker is pushing forward further into the enterprise and away from home markets — which, if you bought a new home PC any time in the past five years, you may think McAfee has a bit of a bad rap. "Free trial" this, "you have a million viruses" that.

McAfee said network security is a "vital component" of any comprehensive security solution, and that "next-generation firewalls [...] represent one of the fastest growing market segments in network security." It also noted that Gartner called Stonesoft a "visionary" in recent security circles and was given a "recommended"

The only thing it missed off was, "it's where the money is." But McAfee probably knows that.

"With Stonesoft, McAfee expects to grow its network security business by delivering the industry’s most complete network security solution with three leading platforms: McAfee's IPS Network Security Platform, McAfee’s Firewall Enterprise for the high assurance market segment, and Stonesoft’s next-generation firewall," the statement read.

That's not a solution you dish out to the home PC market. McAfee (ergo Intel) is continuing to push its network security solutions on the enterprise. That's far from a bad thing. Given that Intel's main focus is chips, it's no wonder that it's branching out in other areas considering the stale state of the PC market. 

Writing on his blog, McAfee senior vice president and network security general manager Pat Calhourn said: "With Intel's backing, we can now provide two leading firewall solutions that will be a critical layer in our Security Connected strategy."

McAfee's investment in Stonesoft will also allow the firm to focus its resources on evolving its intrusion prevention systems (IPS) to help businesses defend against advanced threats. 

"Couple IPS and firewall with our advanced threat intelligence, threat evasion expertise, and leading web and email protection solutions, and there is no question McAfee will be leading the way in the network security space," he said.

Enterprise is where the money is. Security is where money has always been. "Throw up a fence and the villagers won't be able to steal the sheep," said a 16th century English manor lord once. Probably. There's little difference in today's market except the sheep are hackers and the fence is your corporate network security.

Topics: Networking, Security

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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