WatchGuard Buys Percipient Networks To Fortify Its Malware Protection Capabilities For SMBs


WatchGuard Technologies has purchased Domain Name System service provider Percipient Networks to boost the security performance of its existing malware prevention techniques.

The Seattle-based network security vendor said its acquisition of Wakefield, Mass.-based Percipient will increase the value of the company's advanced services bundle for SMBs and become a key element in the evolution of WatchGuard's cloud security offering.

"It is WatchGuard's mission to continually evolve our unified security platform to provide the best combination of security services in a simple package, making enterprise-grade security accessible to all," Prakash Panjwani, WatchGuard's CEO, said in a statement. "The addition of security at the DNS layer is just another example of execution of our mission."

[Related: CRN Exclusive: Security Vendor Strongarm Rolls Out Partner Program To Boost Channel Footprint]

Sponsored post

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Percipient was founded in 2014, offers a flagship DNS product known as Strongarm, and employs 13 people, according to LinkedIn. WatchGuard and Percipient didn't immediately respond to requests for additional comment.

Strongarm monitors outbound DNS requests and blocks traffic to websites based on a list of known malicious domains, according to WatchGuard, and is able to extend its filtering capability into all ports and protocols. Panjwani praised Percipient for developing a simple, enterprise-grade offering based on years of research and development.

Rather than simply blocking traffic to malicious sites, Strongarm redirects users to a "black hole" where additional information about the attack is collected, and the user is presented with educational materials to help prevent future attacks. Percipient also employs a threat analysis team who engages with IT managers and MSPs to provide additional insight into how to prevent attacks, WatchGuard said.

"Organizations must employ a two-pronged approach to combat phishing – malware prevention services and employee education," Todd O'Boyle, Percipient's co-founder and CTO, said in a statement. "By protecting users and using blocked attacks as an opportunity to educate, we significantly reduce the odds of that employee making the same mistake a second time."

O'Boyle will join WatchGuard as director of product management, where he will be responsible for continuing to develop the Strongarm product.

All active WatchGuard advanced services customers will gain access to Strongarm's capabilities at no additional charge, the company said. The newly acquired DNS filtering service will be released to WatchGuard partners and customers in beta later this month, WatchGuard said, and will be generally available as part of the company's all-in-one security package shortly thereafter.

Percipient partners and customers, meanwhile, will benefit from immediate access to WatchGuard's partner program and full product portfolio, expanding their protection to cover more threats, O'Boyle said. Strongarm launched a partner program in June to help grow its channel from accounting for 50 percent of business at that time to 90 percent in mid-2018, CRN reported at the time.

"We are extremely proud of what we have built with the Strongarm platform," O'Boyle said. "This partnership with WatchGuard will put our award-winning technology and education tools into the hands of tens of thousands of organizations around the world almost immediately via WatchGuard's extensive VAR and MSP community."

Verus CEO Kevin Willette likened WatchGuard's deal to Cisco's August 2015 purchase of DNS resolution service provider OpenDNS, and said that acquisition has provided the Coon Rapids, Minn.-based solution provider with additional traction in the DNS filtering space.

Willette is pleased to hear that WatchGuard will be bringing a similar offering to market and that the DNS filtering capabilities will be rolled into the company's advanced services bundle.

"It should be really awesome," Willette told CRN. "We're looking forward to it."

Percipient is WatchGuard's second deal since Panjwani told CRN in July that the company was on the hunt for acquisitions. One month later, WatchGuard expanded its portfolio beyond the network and wireless security space and into the authentication market with the purchase of McLean, Va.-based Datablink.