Check Point to Buy Intrusion Detection Specialist

Via the acquisition of NFR and its hybrid detection engine technology, Check Point says it will be able to provide more comprehensive network and data security.

Check Point Software Technologies announced Dec. 19 that it has signed an agreement to acquire network intrusion detection analyst NFR Security for approximately $20 million.

By adding Rockville, Md.-based NFRs hybrid detection engine technology to its own remote access and network security products, Check Point said it would be able to arm customers with more sophisticated attack protection. Check Point officials said that the capabilities of NFRs intrusion detection applications will complement its existing SmartDefense software to help better identify multi-faceted threats including so-called zero day exploits.

Check Point, based in Ramat Gan, Israel, specifically said that the NFRs Sentivist real-time threat protection technology would help extend its own NGX unified network security platform. The NFR IPS (intrusion prevention system) joins Check Points existing package of firewall, virtual private network and security management applications, and will lend new levels of intelligence and control to the product, company officials said.

The software maker also plans to market a stand-alone IPS package built around the NFR technology and its existing InterSpect internal gateway security products.

"This acquisition is part of our focus on two primary layers, network security as our core platform and our recently announced expansion into data security," said Gil Shwed, chief executive at Check Point, in a statement."

Check Point reported that the deal for privately held NFR has already received approval from U.S. regulators and that it expects the transaction to close before the end of 2006.

In another acquisition-related move, Check Point announced that it has increased its offer, and extended its deadline, to buy Swedish software maker Protect Data, owner of Pointsec Mobile Technologies.

Check Point said it has upped its bid for the company to $625 million, a sizable increase over its previous offer of $586 million to Protect Data shareholders, and pushed back its timeline for completing the deal from Dec. 22, 2006, to Jan. 8, 2007.

At the time Check Point made its original offer to Protect Data in November 2006, the Swedish companys directors announced unanimous approval for the deal and said the bid would also be accepted by the firms largest shareholder, Monterro Holding, which controls just over 10 percent of the firm.

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Industry watchers predicted that Check Point will continue to seek out strategic deals that expand its product portfolio to help better compete against larger players such as anti-virus leaders Symantec and McAfee. Those companies, along with Microsoft, are pushing integrated security technologies that promise to help customers address larger sets of problems, increasing pressure on stand-alone products.

Check Point and rivals such as Trend Micro are being pushed by customers to bring on additional capabilities and will seek out companies whose technologies can lend broader appeal to their products, said Jon Oltsik, analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, based in Milford, Mass.

"Were seeing that large companies are trying to expand their portfolios and become end-to-end providers of enterprise-class security technologies," said Oltsik. "In order to do that, they must cherry pick among the other providers and look for specialists from the venture-backed startup world."

The analyst said he expects a number of high-profile security point product specialists to become targets for larger companies or rivals looking to get bigger fast.

"There will be a lot of bottom fishing and brand extension from the bigger guys because the market is tilting uphill and favoring large players with products pieced together from a management standpoint," said Oltsik. "Many highly funded security startups like ArcSight, Fortinet and Webroot have lots of money and no clear exit strategy as the competition is getting tougher; I think there might be a fire sale sometime soon."

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