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McAfee acquires Wireless Security

Company will gain new Wi-Fi technology through the deal and plans to introduce new consumer products this fall.

McAfee has confirmed its purchase of Wireless Security, a maker of Wi-Fi protection products for consumers and small businesses.

As previously reported, the acquisition is expected to aid security giant McAfee's efforts in the growing consumer Wi-Fi market by giving it additional services and products. The deal, announced Thursday, may also serve as a launching pad for McAfee to approach Internet service providers with a premium service that they could in turn sell to their customers.

"The world we live in has become increasingly wireless, yet most users do not have the proper security enabled and additional protection installed to secure their wireless networks," George Samenuk, McAfee's chief executive, said in a statement.

McAfee acquired all of Wireless Security's outstanding stock, technologies and assets. McAfee paid about $20 million for the company, executives said during a Webcast on Thursday.

Wireless Security's technology will be bundled with McAfee's core products, including its Internet Security Suite, VirusScan and Personal Firewall, the company said in a statement. Wireless Security's technology will also be integrated into McAfee's Managed VirusScan, a product for small businesses.

Santa Clara, Calif.-based McAfee, plans to debut its new Wi-Fi consumer security products in the fall.

The consumer products are designed to let people enable their systems with Wi-Fi security with one click of the mouse, as well as ease the process of adding more PCs to their Wi-Fi network, Bill Kerrigan, a McAfee senior vice president, said during the Webcast.

He added that the Wi-Fi security applications will be "self-maintaining." The encryption keys, for example, will rotate without user interaction.

Wireless Security, based in Redwood City, Calif., supports virtually all network cards, as well as WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) and WPA-PSK (Wi-Fi Protected Access preshared key mode). It also supports most of the wireless routers from large companies such as Linksys, D-Link and Netgear, as well as some devices from Belkin, Proxim and 3Com.

As the popularity of Wi-Fi has grown among consumers, so has concern over its security. For many people, the complexity of dealing with a wireless network is a struggle, and they end up putting security on the back burner, some experts say.