ARM buys Israeli security firm for some IoT protection help

As it expands its IoT offerings, the chip design firm is teaming up with Tel Aviv's Sansa Security.

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Sansa Security CEO Coby Sella Image: Sansa Security

Chip designer ARM, which recently partnered with IBM to develop an Internet of Things 'starter kit', is buying Israeli cyber-security firm Sansa Security to help protect IoT devices.

With the acquisition, Sansa's embedded chip security will become a part of the company's security portfolio.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but reports in the Israeli press pegged the deal as being worth between $85m and $100m.

Sansa already works with ARM, which designs SoC chips used in IoT devices. Besides ARM, the company counts among its customers LG, Freescale, Google, Qualcomm, and many others, and its security systems are installed in more than 150 million products a year.

Those customers, and many others, use Sansa's Silicon chipset-level security system. The security software does for embedded chips what bigger security applications, like antivirus systems and firewalls, do for computers, servers, and devices, examining traffic that connects to the chip, checking for anomalous activity, and examining network connections.

Along with the general silicon system, Sansa also has specific modules for chips from different manufacturers and for various products - to the extent that it has already deployed a security system to protect a smart lightbulb.

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The deal is significant not just for ARM and Sansa - but for the local tech ecosystem as well. ARM is one of the last multinational tech giants to open an R&D center in Israel. "They are one of the biggest tech organizations that had yet to open a development center in Israel," said Shlomo Gradman, chairman of the Israel High-Tech CEO Forum and CEO of consulting firm ASG. "I see ARM's entry into the local market as an extremely important development. ARM has in the past several years become an important player in the IoT world, and I am sure that Sansa will provide some great technology, as well as provide a boost to our local hardware and IoT industry."

"Any connected device could be a target for a malicious attack so we must embed security at every potential attack point," said Mike Muller, CTO of ARM. "Protection against hackers works best when it is multi-layered, so we are extending our security technology capability into hardware subsystems and trusted software. This means our partners will be able to license a comprehensive security suite from a single source."

"Our technology is already being used to protect data gathered and transmitted by a multitude of IoT and mobile devices," said Coby Sella, CEO, Sansa Security. "Joining ARM will enable us to scale the business by helping ARM's global technology partners to address their most pressing security needs. Aligning what we do with the world's leading IP company, allows us to develop our products and capability to new levels."

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