updated 11/16/2005 7:57:10 PM ET 2005-11-17T00:57:10

Oracle Corp. has snapped up security-software specialists Thor Technologies Inc. and OctetString, continuing an aggressive shopping spree aimed at filling holes in its product lineup.

The latest acquisitions announced Wednesday by the world’s second-largest software company are small compared to the size of some of Oracle’s other recent deals, which have included an $11.1 billion takeover of PeopleSoft Inc. 11 months ago and a $5.85 billion agreement to buy Siebel Systems Inc. early next year.

Redwood Shores-based Oracle isn’t disclosing how much it is paying for Pleasanton-based Thor Technologies and Schaumburg, Ill.-based OctetString — details that a publicly held company can’t withhold unless the purchase prices are considered immaterial.

Nevertheless, Oracle views privately held Thor Technologies and OctetString as significant additions in its effort to help its corporate customers shield their data.

Both Thor Technologies and OctetString focus on “identity management,” a niche focused on ensuring that only authorized users are able to read and change the sensitive data stored on computers.

With the acquisitions, Oracle expects to offer added protection inside the corporate firewall, the first line of defense against computer hackers.

The software made by Thor and OctetString acts “like a guard inside the castle making sure people are who they say they are,” said Wynn White, Oracle’s senior director of identity management and security marketing.

The demand for identity-management software has risen in the past two years as large companies try to guard against internal abuses as well as outside mischief, White said. Tougher securities laws that hold corporate executives personally liable for weak internal controls also have helped propel the push for tougher security measures.

Signaling its intent to play a bigger role in the field, Oracle bought another identity management firm, Oblix, for an undisclosed amount eight months ago.

Oracle, the world’s second-largest software maker behind Microsoft Corp., has spent about $18 billion buying other software firms during the past year.

With the deals, Oracle has striven to expand its longtime leadership in database software — the product line that accounts for most of its sales. Slowing growth in database markets prompted Oracle to explore other product avenues.

The expansion hasn’t paid off for the company’s stockholders yet. Oracle shares have declined by about 9 percent so far this year, including an 18 cent drop to close Wednesday at $12.49 on the Nasdaq Stock Market.

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