Sophos snaps up machine learning tech firm Invincea to fight modern malware

The anti-malware provider has been acquired in a deal worth $100 million.

Malware threats continue to evolve and have risen in such proportions that it is no longer enough to have a few members of staff keeping an eye on attacks against corporate networks.

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Businesses need solutions which work in real-time, lessen the burden of network defense with automaton and can evolve with new and emerging threats.

As a result, machine learning (ML) technology has begun to put down roots in the cybersecurity field as a solution able to analyze patterns, learn, and predict where and when the next attack is likely to occur -- and from what sources.

In order to keep ahead with this trend, cybersecurity firm Sophos announced on Wednesday the acquisition of Invincea, a Fairfax, Virginia.-based provider of endpoint security solutions which utilize machine learning technologies to combat digital threats.

The deal has been agreed for $100 million in cash, with the option of a $20 million earn-out, which will likely depend on performance targets set by Sophos.

Sophos says the deal will develop firm's "next-generation endpoint protection strategy with deep learning artificial intelligence algorithms."

Invincea holds patents for machine and deep learning systems used to detect cyberthreats without relying on signatures. The company's flagship product, X by Invincea, uses deep learning neural networks and behavioral monitoring to unmask zero-day attacks and previously unknown malware, with the aim of scuppering attacks before damage occurs.

These technologies will eventually become fully integrated within the Sophos endpoint protection portfolio.

"By adding Invincea to our portfolio, Sophos is executing on its vision to assemble the most powerful technologies to provide the very best, cutting-edge defenses for our customers," commented Kris Hagerman, chief executive officer at Sophos.

"Invincea will strengthen Sophos' leading next-gen endpoint protection with complementary predictive defenses that we believe will become increasingly important to the future of endpoint protection and allow us to take full advantage of this significant new growth opportunity," Hagerman added.

Invincea CEO Anup Ghosh and COO Norm Laudermilch will join Sophos in leadership roles.

The Invincea endpoint security portfolio will continue to be supported and sold by the company through current partners and the Sophos Central synchronized security management platform.

However, Invincea Labs, a research and development unit, has been separated prior to the buyout and is not included in the deal.