VeriSign will monitor the computer systems of the giant investment bank and financial-management company, taking on the responsibility of repelling intrusions. Merrill Lynch's computer-security setup involves more than 300 security devices worldwide, according to VeriSign, which will make sure the devices are kept up-to-date.
"At our secure operation center, we are continually monitoring what is happening not only within Merrill Lynch's systems but across the Internet," said Ben Golub, a senior vice president in VeriSign's security division. "We track new threats and attacks and make sure that the devices at Merrill Lynch are properly configured to meet those attacks."
Companies across various industries are increasingly enlisting the services of security firms that they think have the specialized ability to detect a threat and correlate it with data gathered from all over the Internet.
The Merrill Lynch contract is a big win for VeriSign, which is a relative newcomer to managing security devices. The company is better known as a domain registry for Internet addresses and as a provider of security and payment processing services tailored specifically toward e-commerce. The expanded focus brings it into greater competition with companies such as Electronic Data Systems, Symantec and Network Associates, along with the security division of IBM.
"Managing security devices represents a smaller portion of our overall security business, but it is rapidly growing," said Golub.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.