VeriSign to Acquire Security Services Provider Guardent

UPDATE: VeriSign has agreed to purchase managed security services provider Guardent for $140 million, a move that underscores its renewed emphasis on the security sector.

VeriSign Inc. on Wednesday announced that it has agreed to acquire managed security services provider Guardent Inc. for $140 million.

The deal, first reported by eWEEK Tuesday, greatly enhances VeriSigns services portfolio and further underscores the companys renewed commitment to the security sector.

Officials from both companies said the combination of the skill sets and technologies of VeriSign and Guardent will prove to be a formidable one. "I wouldnt want to be in our competitors shoes today," said Maria Cirino, CEO of Guardent, who will now become the general manager of VeriSigns security services unit.

VeriSign is one of the larger MSSPs in the industry and Guardent is one of the few independent security service providers left in a market that was once quite crowded. Among the pioneers of the MSSP model, Counterpane Internet Security Inc., TruSecure Corp., RedSiren and NetSec Inc. are the few holdouts left in the market. Guardent, based in Waltham, Mass., is privately held and backed by a bevy of high-profile venture capital firms.

Guardent has a large base of government and private sector customers and its executives are quite visible in Wash-ington and involved in a wide variety of industry and government initiatives. The companys managed security offerings are based on its TeraGuard architecture, which serves as a correlation and normalization engine to distill and prioritize large quantities of security data.

VeriSign, based in Mountain View, Calif., recently moved back into the security market in a major way, with the announcement in October of its Intelligence and Control Services. The offerings are packaged around various aspects of security, including networks, applications and e-commerce.

/zimages/6/28571.gifTo read more about VeriSigns push into the security market, click here.

In the past, VeriSign was involved in the security market as a provider of digital certificates, and the company later moved into other areas through its acquisition of Network Solutions Inc. VeriSign recently sold off Network Solutions, a domain-name registrar.

/zimages/6/28571.gifIn October, VeriSign sold off its Network Solutions business unit. Read more here.

Meanwhile, VeriSign in 2001 acquired Telenisus Inc., a small, managed-services company.

Analysts said the acquisition of Guardent solidifies VeriSigns position in the managed security services provider sector. "VeriSign started off managing trust and have moved to managing threats," said analyst Pete Lindstrom, research director at Spire Security LLC in Malvern, Pa. "They need someone with that threat-management mentality to help with that. They needed the people and Im sure they were glad to have the customer base and expertise. The skill sets are different, even though the ultimate goal is the same."

Other MSSPs saw the VeriSign-Guardent combination as a positive sign for the market in general.

"This clearly validates that MSSPs are involved in a growth market thats difficult and takes some expertise," said Doug Goodall, president and CEO of RedSiren, based in New York. "That a large public company like VeriSign recognizes that is a good sign. I think this is a positive move for them and the market."