Cisco acquires IronPort for $830 million

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In a move that will boost Cisco Systems' presence in the security arena, the networking giant announced plans today to acquire enterprise spam- and spyware-protection provider IronPort Systems.

The $830 million deal is "a natural extension to Cisco's security portfolio" as enterprises increasingly grapple with the need to safeguard email and other messaging technology, according to a news release.

"This is a step that Cisco had to take because security is moving away from just being about the network and devices and is becoming focused on securing the data," James Quin, senior research analyst at Toronto-based Info-Tech Research Group, told today.

IronPort's appliance solutions expanded in November when it announced plans to acquire PostX, maker of email-encryption services.

This is the first security snag for Cisco since it acquired endpoint security firm Meetinghouse in July for almost $44 million. Two months later, Microsoft and Cisco announced plans to integrate their network access control architectures.

In November 2005, Cisco scooped up the security intelligence assets of Cybertrust for $14 million. The Intellishield Alert Manager provides daily vulnerability updates to customers.

But Quin said the IronPort acquisition is unique because it represents the changing face of enterprise security.

Quin cited Symantec's recently announced Security 2.0 initiative, focused on rolling out products aimed at identity and reputation protection, and Check Point's acquisition in November of Protect Data, parent of Pointsec Mobile Technologies.

"Making sure that data is appropriately protected is the next frontier," he said. "It's where security is going, and Cisco is just being prudent by keeping pace."

In other Cisco news, the company reported Wednesday that its Clean Access solution contains multiple vulnerabilities that can be exploited by attackers to escalate privileges and access sensitive information. In an advisory, the French Security Incident Response Team rated the flaws "high risk."

Click here to email reporter Dan Kaplan.

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