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Apple bulks up mobile security with $356M AuthenTec buy

The iPad and iPhone maker ponies up $8 a share to acquire Authentec, which develops fingerprint sensors and identity management software for mobile devices.

Apple's Cupertino campus.
James Martin/CNET

Apple is getting serious about mobile security.

The Cupertino, Calif., company has agreed to acquire security technology company AuthenTec for $356 million, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission made by AuthenTec.

The $8-a-share offer for AuthenTec represents a 58 percent premium over its Thursday closing price of $5.07.

CNET contacted Apple for comment. We'll update the story when the company responds. An AuthenTec spokesman confirmed the deal but said it wouldn't be adding any more detail.

Apple is just the latest company to get swept up in the increasing interest in mobile security. With increasing reports of mobile malware, viruses, and other threats, the wireless industry has stepped up its defenses. Carriers such as AT&T and Sprint Nextel are increasingly talking about security as the next big service, while a number of mobile security firms have sprung up in recent years.

AuthenTec makes fingerprint sensors and identity management software that's deployed in mobile devices, computing and networking companies, service providers, and governments. It counts Samsung Electronics, LG, Cisco Systems, and Motorola among its customers. Earlier this month, Samsung tapped AuthenTec's virtual private network security to power its business-class smartphones and tablets.