Symantec Acquires Endpoint-Security Company Sygate

Analysts say the purchase will fill holes in Symantec's network security lineup, bringing NAC technology and a better firewall.

Security company Symantec is buying Sygate Technologies, a maker of security products that secure mobile and networked computers.

Symantec Corp., of Cupertino, Calif., said on Tuesday that it had signed agreements to acquire Sygate Inc., of Fremont, Calif., for an undisclosed amount.

The deal will combine Sygates software for enforcing network security policies and securing so-called "endpoints," such as servers, laptops and mobile devices, with Symantecs stable of security wares, according to Symantec.

Sygate makes network access control technology for large enterprises.

The company sells a wide range of products, from enterprise and desktop firewall software to security policy enforcement tools for wired and wireless networks and devices.

"Were excited. Its a great deal for our employees and investors. Everybodys going to walk away happy," said John De Santis, Sygates CEO.

Symantec is not disclosing the amount of the purchase, but De Santis said it was a cash-only transaction that was immaterial to Symantecs earnings.

Symantec will begin reselling Sygate technology immediately after the deal—which must receive regulatory approval—closes, De Santis said.

/zimages/3/28571.gifRead details here about how Symantec is repackaging its security and storage wares.

Symantec plans to use Sygates Universal Network Access Control technology to enforce business policies and automate security practice within enterprises, which will help with network security and regulatory compliance, the company said.

Symantec Anti-virus and Client Security customers will be able to license Sygates Network Access Control Agent. That agent will also be integrated with Symantecs LiveUpdate and LiveState Patch Manager services, Symantec said.

Over time, Symantec will integrate Sygates client software into its own desktop client and fold policy management functionality from Sygate into existing policy management products, De Santis said.

The acquisition plugs a gaping hole in Symantecs product line, said John Pescatore, vice president at analyst firm Gartner Inc.

The company lacked a solid NAC (network access control) technology that could run security checks on machines running Symantec software and report their health to a policy server before allowing them to connect to corporate networks.

/zimages/3/28571.gifSymantec admits to making "one enormous mistake" regarding its purchase of Veritas. Click here to read more.

Many enterprises have been stung by infections and data breaches from compromised employee systems and are anxious for NAC features. At the same time, Symantec competitors, including Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. and Cisco Systems Inc. have both invested in NAC technology in recent years —Check Point through its acquisition of Zone Labs LLC, and Cisco with its Cisco Security Agent software and NAC program, Pescatore said.

In addition to the Universal NAC system, Symantec will acquire SODA (Sygates On-Demand Agent), a lightweight agent that can secure Web applications or SSL VPNs for employees who connect to corporate networks from machines other than their corporate laptops or desktops.

But challenges remain.

Symantec will need to figure out what to do with Sygates firewall technology.

Symantecs existing firewall, which it acquired from AtGuard in 1999, is not considered "best of breed." Symantec could benefit from Sygates experienced firewall engineers and from the addition of connection-specific firewall policy features from Sygates firewall products, Pescatore said.

However, disentangling Symantecs current firewall from the anti-virus and anti-spyware features that it has been bundled with will be a challenge, he said.

The company will also have to figure out how to integrate Sygates 200 employees, who are based in Fremont, Calif.

De Santis said that Sygates staff will stay in Fremont at least for the next 18 months, and that he plans to stay at Symantec once the acquisition is complete and through the transition to a new company. But he couldnt say Tuesday what his role in the merged company would be.

"I guess they wont let me be CEO," he said.

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