Sophos Moves Into Anti-spam Arena

By purchasing anti-spam provider ActiveState, the anti-virus vendor moves closer to delivering a total e-mail security package.

Looking to solidify its position in the enterprise security market, anti-virus vendor Sophos Inc. on Wednesday announced that it has agreed to acquire ActiveState Corp., a Canadian anti-spam provider.

The acquisition, which cost Sophos $23 million, gives the company an avenue to challenge the larger anti-virus companies, such as Network Associates Inc. and Symantec Corp., which are also integrating anti-spam technology into their anti-virus offerings.

ActiveStates anti-spam software is currently only available for the Unix platform, but company officials said future plans include the development of a version for Windows. In the next few weeks, the two companies will work to more tightly integrate their two products. ActiveState has been a partner of Sophos for some time, so the integration shouldnt take too much effort.

Sophos executives said the decision to purchase ActiveState was driven by the need to deliver more of a total e-mail security package to their customers.

"Its been very clear to us in the last six to eight months that the line between spam and anti-virus is getting very thin," said Stephen Orenberg, president of Sophos, based in Lynnfield, Mass. "An integrated solution is absolutely required."

Both Sophos and ActiveState sell solely into the enterprise market, a fact that should simplify the merger of the companies, Orenberg said.


The staff of ActiveState, based in Vancouver, British Columbia, will join Sophos, and Steve Munford, ActiveStates president, will become the global vice president of messaging at Sophos.

Munford said he expects PureMessage, ActiveStates flagship product, to be completely integrated with Sophos MailMonitor by the beginning of next year.

"This is just the natural evolution of a good relationship," Munford said. "Its definitely not a case where there arent sufficient resources to do what needs to be done."