Symantec Acquires Mi5 Networks, Offers Web Security Suites


The Mi5 acquisition allows Symantec to integrate streaming technology that closely inspects both inbound and outbound traffic, company executives said. Meanwhile, the purchase also fulfills a valuable niche in Symantec's product portfolio, adding specialized capabilities that protect against increasingly sophisticated Web-based malware.

"Today what we're seeing is the next generation of malware that comes over Web sites and through HTTP traffic. What Mi5 gives to us is next-generation Web security protection," said Francis deSouza, Symantec senior vice president for the Enterprise Security Group.

Symantec intends to incorporate Mi5's Web gateway technologies into its e-mail gateway and endpoint security products in an effort to enhance suites that provide multipronged protection against sophisticated Web-based malware, deSouza said. Down the road, Mi5's gateway technology will be incorporated in broader suites that integrate DLP and messaging security, deSouza said.

For channel partners, the acquisition provides one more set of capabilities that they can add to their overall portfolio of offerings that address current high-profile malware attacks, such as the Conficker worm. The additional gateway technologies are especially attractive for SMB customers, who have to deal with the same malware threats as the enterprise but with less dedicated staff and fewer financial resources, executives say.

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"Conficker was a pretty big virus problem. And the cost of being hit is a big cost," deSouza said. "Mi5 allows the channel to demonstrate to their customers that they are on top of these emerging threats."

The hallmark of Symantec's acquisition is a plethora of new Protection Suites incorporating Web security technology aimed at both the SMBs and enterprises. Symantec's Protection Suite Small Business Edition offers protection for SMBs' sensitive information by identifying and addressing malware and spam risks. The new suite also touts ease of use, fast performance and minimal deployment and installation time.

Symantec Protection Suite Enterprise Edition integrates Mi5's Web gateway technology with Symantec's endpoint and messaging security and system recovery technologies, incorporating multiple layers of protection designed to identify and remediate risks. The enterprise-class suite also incorporates endpoint security with backup and recovery capabilities, in the event of a disaster or system failure.

Symantec also launched its Endpoint Protection Small Business Edition, which offers comprehensive endpoint protection but includes built-in tools geared for SMBs, such as preconfigured notifications, installation wizard and a streamlined user interface, aimed at simplifying deployment.

Symantec executives say that the acquisition and the resulting focus on SMB protection is in direct response to increased demand from lower market customers who are requiring more sophisticated security infrastructure and data protection capabilities in order to stay competitive.

"We're continuing to see that there is a growth in the demand from small businesses around more sophisticated security," deSouza said. "They're using it as a competitive differentiator to protect not just themselves but the data they have access to as part of the way they do business."

Meanwhile, deSouza said that he had seen a broader trend expanding across all market segments for comprehensive security suites, which are less complex, require less IT staff and provide a wider breadth of functionality for customers' security dollars.

"There's a big drive across small business and large enterprises to say, 'We want fewer but bigger security products that address the threats more holistically,'" deSouza said. "Companies are taking a very hard look at all of the security products they've deployed and are saying, 'Look, do we really need all of these?' "