Security

VeriSign locks in security acquisition

The domain-name and communications company announces that it has signed an agreement to acquire Guardent, a privately held provider of managed security services, for $140 million in stock and cash.

VeriSign said Wednesday that it has signed an agreement to acquire Guardent, a privately held provider of managed security services, for $140 million in stock and cash.

The four-year old Guardent, based in Waltham, Mass., specializes in helping large companies manage their security needs. Although VeriSign offers similar services, Guardent adds expertise in some areas where VeriSign was less strong, such as vulnerability management, said Ben Golub, senior vice president of VeriSign Security Services.

Companies have spent a great deal of money on things such as firewalls and virtual private networking gear, but most lack the ability to fully manage such equipment, Guardent CEO Maria Cirino said.


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"It's become increasingly difficult to manage that equipment and all the data that equipment is spitting out," Cirino said in a telephone interview. After the deal closes, she plans to remain with VeriSign as senior vice president and general manager of Managed Security Services, reporting to Judy Lin, executive vice president and general manager of VeriSign's Security and Payment division.

In addition, Mountain View, Calif.-based VeriSign said it will add Guardent's roughly 150 full-time employees to its ranks. The deal is expected to close in mid-February and be neutral to VeriSign's 2004 earnings, the company said.

VeriSign has been beefing up its security offerings, tying together information it and its customers gather in hopes of using the information to fend off various threats.

Security is just one of several businesses for VeriSign, which also offers domain registry and telecommunications services. VeriSign made headlines earlier this year when it tried to grab hold of all traffic from mistyped or nonexistent Web addresses.

VeriSign, which entered the security business in 1995, has been offering managed security services since 2001 and counts Merrill Lynch as one of its key customers.

Cirino said that Guardent manages security for 12 percent to 13 percent of Fortune 500 companies, including 15 of the top 50 financial organizations. Among Guardent's customers is Web search company Overture Services.