Symantec Acquires VPN Secure Software Maker SurfEasy, Strengthening Its Consumer Security Business

Symantec has added more muscle to its consumer security business unit with the acquisition of secure Virtual Private Network (VPN) maker SurfEasy in a $38.5 million deal.

SurfEasy's parent Opera Software said it is an all-cash deal with 85 percent paid at closing and the remaining 15 percent held in escrow for up to 15 months.

[Related: Symantec CEO Clark: Equifax Breach Is Driving A 'New Normal' For Identity Protection, Consumer Business Is 'Strong Growth Engine']

SurfEasy – which will become part of Symantec's Consumer Business Unit – was already an OEM provider to Symantec powering the Norton Wi-Fi VPN product.

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The deal comes just one week after Symantec raised the outlook on the consumer business with projections for mid-single-digit growth rates. That's a dramatic turnaround from a year ago when Symantec's consumer business was experiencing high-single-digit or even double-digit sales declines.

Douglas Grosfield, CEO of Five Nines IT, a fast-growing Kitchener, Ontario, strategic service provider, said the deal is key to Symantec beefing up its security muscle.

"Hallelujah to Symantec for buying SurfEasy," said Grosfield. "It is not a major acquisition in the grand scheme of things, but this technology definitely makes it easier for business people to securely communicate in the midst of the widespread ubiquity of wireless services and free Wi-Fi."

Grosfield said he sees the client secure VPN technology that SurfEasy has protecting iOS, Android, Mac and Windows devices as one more sign of vendors moving to provide end-to-end integrated secure platforms.

"What we are seeing is a changing of the guard with the bigger security players providing an end-to-end unified security platform from the consumer client to the enterprise data center," he said. "In the past what we were relegated to betting on a whole bunch of different horses as we tried to build a cohesive security architecture on our own."

Grosfield said close to 50 percent of his company's revenue comes from security offerings with strong partnerships with the likes of Sophos, Webroot and Carbon Black. One of his strongest security offerings is security awareness training from KnowBe4, -- whose tagline is "Human Error. Conquered."

"It doesn't matter what security technology you have if humans drop the ball," said Grosfield. "This is using people as a human firewall. If you don't cover your bases with security awareness training, you are leaving a huge gap. It's a case of the emperor has no pants."

The current Symantec Norton Wi-Fi VPN product, which is powered by SurfEasy, has seen "strong momentum" in the wake of the KRACK vulnerability in the wifi protocol that came to light last month, said Symantec CEO Greg Clark on the company's earnings call last week. He said the spike in the VPN product was "very, very substantial" with the offering adding as much as $30 to $50 a year subscription growth rates to the standard Norton security product.