IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

McAfee, Symantec add mobile security to lineup

Two well-known anti-virus software companies are expanding their reach into the security marketplace.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Two well-known anti-virus software companies are expanding their reach into the security marketplace.

McAfee said Tuesday that it's buying mobile security company Trust Digital. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Trust Digital, based in McLean, Va., is used by companies to secure data that travels through mobile networks, using such devices as Apple's iPhone and iPad.

McAfee said the acquisition will extend its business into the mobile market, especially as employees increasingly use smart phones for work.The deal is expected to close by June 30.

The announcement comes about a week after competitor Symantec's decision to pay $1.28 billion to buy a division of VeriSign that sells security technology to websites.

With the VeriSign deal, announced May 19, Symantec will have spent nearly $3 billion in two years acquiring technologies that make it a bigger player in other parts of the security market, such as protecting data on mobile phones and delivering software over the Internet.

Meanwhile, VeriSign, whose brand is ubiquitous on the Web for protecting online transactions, wants to secure fewer things.

It wants to focus instead on a lesser-known but more robust part of its business: managing traffic to websites with addresses ending in ".com" and ".net," and collecting fees for registering those domain names.

VeriSign has been purging divisions for the past three years, after realizing it was spread too thin following a buying binge designed to insulate it from the kinds of problems it had after the dot-com collapse a decade ago.

Prior to Wednesday's deal with Symantec, VeriSign had sold more than a dozen businesses since 2007 for a total of nearly $1 billion. Some were curious choices for VeriSign to have in the first place, such as a division that did billing services for telecommunications companies and another that sold ring tones and insurance for mobile phones.

What Symantec gets out of the VeriSign deal is one of the Web's best-known brand names for security.

VeriSign's logo — a check mark and the tag "VeriSign Secured" — is ubiquitous on websites that have bought its security technology. The VeriSign division that Symantec is buying sells "certificates" to websites that want protection for their customers' data. The Secure Sockets Layer, or SSL, certificates allow data to be encrypted between a user's browser and a website's servers. A padlock icon appears on a user's browser when that technology is being used.

The certificate business has long been a cornerstone for VeriSign, but has come under pressure in recent years.

In part, that's because cheap SSL certificates sold by other companies are easy to come by. The competition has forced VeriSign to sell more of its cheaper SSL certificates, too, even though their security measures are weaker.

Still, at the end of last year, more than 1 million sites were using VeriSign's SSL certificates, making the business an attractive target for a company such as Symantec looking to extend its brand.

The deal is expected to close in the September quarter.