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Palo Alto Networks Buys Security Startup Morta

The deal comes days after FireEye spent $1 billion to buy Madiant in a cyber-security market that continues to consolidate.

Palo Alto Networks is bolstering its cyber-security capabilities by buying startup Morta Security.

The acquisition of Morta—a small company started by veterans of the National Security Agency and the U.S. Air Force—reportedly will help Palo Alto Networks build upon its WildFire next-generation firewall offering. The company is looking to create an automated security solution that will enable enterprises to be more proactive in protecting themselves against threats, and react more quickly when they are attacked.

The company did not elaborate on what specifically Morta's technology does, but officials said the startup's capabilities will help organizations better detect variations in new attacks.

No financial details about the deal were revealed.

"The Morta team brings additional valuable threat intelligence experience and capabilities to Palo Alto Networks," Palo Alto President and CEO Mark McLaughlin said in a statement. "The company’s technology developments align well with our highly integrated, automated and scalable platform approach and their contributions will translate into additive threat detection and prevention benefits for our customers."

The Morta acquisition is the latest in a security industry that continues to see some consolidation. Cyber-security software maker FireEye announced Jan. 2 that it was spending $1 billion to buy Mandiant, which makes endpoint security products and software for managing incident response. The companies said their focus will be on developing solutions around real-time intrusion detection, contextual threat intelligence and rapid incident response.

Cisco Systems also is rapidly growing its security capabilities. The networking giant last year spent $2.7 billion to buy Sourcefire, which Cisco officials said significantly expanded its capabilities in such areas as next-generation firewalls, next-generation intrusion-preventions systems and advanced malware protection. The move came as Cisco looks to become a strong enterprise IT provider.

"Security is a very crucial component [of an overall enterprise IT solution portfolio], and enterprises expect that," Bret Hartman, chief technology officer of Cisco’s Security Group, told eWEEK in October. "You can’t be considered a credible [IT vendor] without this security."

In January 2013, Cisco bought network security vendor Cognitive Security.

Palo Alto officials said too many organizations are relying too much on legacy point technologies that are ill-suited to defend against the newer, more sophisticated attacks, and it's becoming too expensive and difficult to continue addressing the threat with more products and people.

Instead, what's needed is automated, scalable solutions that can reduce the threat area, block all known threats, detect unknown threats through analysis and respond to the unknown threats, officials said.