McAfee buys ScanAlert in potential $75 million deal

McAfee announced today that it will acquire certification vendor ScanAlert in a deal potentially worth $75 million.

McAfee will pay $51 million up front for the Napa, Calif.-based company, as well as $24 million if performance targets are met.

The acquisition is McAfee's second in just weeks. The company acquired encryption provider SafeBoot for $350 million on Oct. 8 to boost its enterprise data security offerings.

Dave DeWalt, McAfee president and chief executive officer, said today that the acquisition will help to make e-commerce safer.

“Consumers are expected to spend nearly $160 billion this year on products and services online, providing personal credit card information to e-commerce websites, many of which have traditionally been under-protected,” he said in a news release.

ScanAlert, best known for its Hacker Safe certification, has a customer list that includes the American Red Cross, Guess, Petco, Toshiba and Warner Brothers.

ScanAlert will be integrated into the Santa Clara, Calif.-based anti-virus vendor's Web Security Group, and will be led cooperatively by Ken Leonard, ScanAlert chief executive officer, and Tim Dowling, a McAfee vice president.

“The mission of the Web Security Group is to bring transparency to the web so that consumers can distinguish between the safe neighborhoods and the dark alleys,” said Dowling. “We already know from numerous studies that consumer confidence is eroding, and as a result, tens of millions of dollars are left unspent online.”

A McAfee representative could not immediately be reached for comment.

John Pescatore, Gartner vice president and senior fellow, told today that McAfee has been unpredictable in its acquisitions of smaller companies.

“The only common thing [McAfee has] done is acquire relatively small companies," he said. "They're not doing the Symantec thing of buying the large security companies."

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