Symantec Goes on Shopping Spree

Symantec buys Riptech, Recourse and SecurityFocus for a total price of $355 million in cash.

Symantec Corp. on Wednesday announced the acquisitions of three companies, greatly expanding the companys product portfolio and making the Cupertino, Calif., vendor the dominant player in the security market.

Symantec purchased Riptech Inc., Recourse Technologies Inc. and SecurityFocus for a total price of $355 million in cash.

The company also announced revenue for the second quarter of $316 million, a 39 percent increase over the same period last year.

The acquisitions are curious in that the three companies have overlapping products and services and serve many of the same high-end corporate and government customers. Riptech, based in Alexandria, Va., is a managed security services provider that offers real-time monitoring of customer networks and detection and containment of attacks. Recourse, of Redwood City, Calif., is well-known for its ManTrap and ManHunt threat-management and intrusion detection system.

SecurityFocus, of San Mateo, Calif., also offers threat-management and alert services and maintains a database of vulnerability and attack information. SecurityFocus also runs several popular security mailing lists, including Bugtraq and Vuln-Dev.

"Security is still an immature market that is attracting a lot of venture capital," said John Thompson, CEO of Symantec. "The combination [of the acquired companies and Symantec] will redefine how security products and services are delivered."

Symantec, best known for its Norton Anti Virus software, has adopted a strategy aimed at providing integrated security products at every level of the corporate network.

Analysts said the moves make sense for Symantec as they address some weaknesses in the companys product portfolio.

"Recourse strengthens a clear Symantec weakness in network-based IDS," said Pete Lindstrom, an analyst with Hurwitz Group, in Framingham, Mass. He added that the acquisition of SecurityFocus gives Symantec access to early-warning data on developing attacks as well as ownership of the vulnerability database used by many IDS vendors.

"This almost forces a move by [Internet Security Systems Inc.] and/or Network Associates," Lindstrom said. "Symantec takes a leadership position in threat management."

ISS has traditionally focused on vulnerability assessment but is also expanding into the managed security services market, while Network Associates has been paring down its product line in order to concentrate on its core antivirus business.

Symantec executives have hinted that acquisitions would be a part of that strategy and the companys stockpile of more than $1.6 billion in short-term assets at the close of the second quarter gives it ample ammunition. The company paid $75 million for SecurityFocus, $135 million for Recourse and $145 million for Riptech.