Symantec buys antiphishing firm WholeSecurity

Acquisition brings Symantec new technology to fight online scams and detect malicious code attacks.

Symantec has agreed to acquire privately held WholeSecurity, which makes products to fight phishing scams and detect malicious code attacks.

Venture-backed WholeSecurity is based in Austin, Texas, and employs about 60 people. Its customers include eBay, Deutsche Bank and Visa, according to the company's Web site. The acquisition is expected to be completed in October, Symantec said Thursday. Financial details were not disclosed.

Symantec currently offers limited antiphishing capabilities through its Brightmail antispam products. The WholeSecurity deal will expand Symantec's lineup that handles phishing fraud and detects worms and other attacks, said Enrique Salem, senior vice president for security products and solutions at Symantec.

Symantec is keen on WholeSecurity's threat detection, Salem said. The behavioral-based technology analyzes the characteristics and actions of viruses, worms and other malicious code to safeguard networks. In the past, detection software has typically used signatures, or recognition of specific threats.

"We already had a range of behavior-based capabilities, but the WholeSecurity technology is incredibly accurate," Salem said. The patent-pending software looks at malicious behavior as well as good behavior to assess the risk, he said. "Most behavior-based technologies only look at malicious behavior," he said.

Symantec plans to integrate WholeSecurity's technology into its own products, Salem said.

WholeSecurity also maintains a list of phishing sites, known as the Phish Report Network. The list is used by eBay and Microsoft browser add-ons that aim to defend against fraud.

The announced acquisition of WholeSecurity is Symantec's second in as many months. In August, the Cupertino, Calif.-based security software giant said it planned to buy compliance specialist Sygate Technologies. In July, Symantec completed the takeover of Veritas Software, which sells backup and management software.

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