Thales Buys Gemalto for $5.6B to Advance Digital Security

Today’s topics include Thales acquiring digital security vendor Gemalto for $5.6 billion; a collaborative takedown of the Satori IoT worm; Google announcing mobile-first indexing of websites on its search platform; and Microsoft adding a new Insights tool to Excel.

French multinational company Thales announced on Dec. 17 that it will acquire digital security vendor Gemalto in a deal valued at 4.8 billion euros, or $5.6 billion, to extend digital identity and data security technology.

French firm Atos offered to acquire Gemalto on Dec. 13 for 46 euros per Gemalto share, while Thales’ successful offer was 51 euros per share.

"Gemalto is ideally positioned to address the security of the industrial internet of things, thanks to the combination of its unique expertise in mobile embedded software and enterprise security," said Patrice Caine, chairman and CEO of Thales. Caine said Gemalto will help Thales, which is active in the areas of aeronautics, space, ground transportation, defense and security, address and secure all steps of the digital decision chain, from data generation to real-time decision making.

In early December, a new version of the Mirai malware, dubbed Satori, used two exploits in popular routers to compromise internet of things devices and build a 700,000-node botnet in less than four days.

According to Dale Drew, chief security strategist at internet infrastructure firm Level 3 Communications, the attack mainly affected devices in Egypt and Latin America. It could have led to another major denial-of-service campaign. Instead, security researchers worked with the two largest internet service providers in the areas affected to block traffic to the server managing infected devices and begin patching customers’ routers. The quick reaction is significant because the Satori malware automatically used any compromised router to scan and infect new systems.

While the botnet is shut down, Drew said the creator of the Satori malware has shown a quickness to adapt, and similar attacks will likely continue.

In keeping with its mobile-first strategy, Google’s search engine crawlers will increasingly consider the mobile version of a website's content first when indexing and ranking the site's search results. Mobile-first indexing ensures that mobile users searching for content online don't run into issues on websites where the desktop version of a page's content is very different from the mobile version.

Google has not laid out a formal timeframe for the shift to mobile-first indexing. However, while Google's search index will continue to be a single index for sites and apps, the company's search algorithms eventually will primarily use a site's mobile content to index and rank it.

The snippets that users see of a website's content and also the content that Google caches will be from a site's mobile version of its web content.

Microsoft has added an artificial intelligence tool for Office 365 that scours Excel spreadsheets and unearths information that users may have missed.

The tool, called Insights in Excel, is "a new service that automatically highlights patterns it detects, which makes it easier for everyone to explore and analyze their data," said Kirk Koenigsbauer, corporate vice president for the Office division at Microsoft. "Powered by machine learning, Insights helps identify trends, outliers, and other useful visualizations, providing new and useful perspectives on data," he continued.

Microsoft will begin rolling out an Insights in Excel preview to Office insiders this month. The Insights in Excel pane appears alongside the main interface and generates a scrollable assortment of charts that are reminiscent of the visualizations produced by Power BI, Microsoft's cloud-based business intelligence and analytics offering.