Utimaco Launches Payments Blitz With Plan To Buy Atalla Cryptography Key Unit


Utimaco is looking to deepen its ties with top global banking and financial services players through its plan to purchase Micro Focus's cryptography and key management business unit.

The Aachen, Germany-based hardware security module (HSM) vendor said its intended acquisition of Atalla's HSM and enterprise secure key manager (ESKM) business lines will help address increasing demand for merging payment functionality with general purpose needs as items like cars and watches become payment devices, according to Utimaco CEO Malte Pollmann.

"Both Utimaco and Atalla are pioneers in hardware security modules, the combination of which leads to an unrivalled wealth of experience and know-how," Pollmann said in a statement. "We have tremendous respect for Atalla's technological achievements in the payments arena and want to remain a focused specialist in this area."

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The acquisition is expected to close in fall 2018 pending the completion of required customary regulatory approvals. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Atalla's HSM offering protects sensitive data and associated keys for non-cash retail payment transactions, cardholder authentication, and cryptographic keys. The company's ESKM tool, meanwhile, provides a centralized way for unifying and automating an organization's encryption key controls by creating, protecting, serving, and auditing access to encryption keys.

Both Atalla and Utimaco have been in the HSM business for close to 30 years, Pollmann said, with Utimaco focusing on general purposes HSMs sold through OEM or channel business partners. The deal provides Utimaco with a very comprehensive portfolio of both financial payment and general purpose HSMs that can be delivered to customers worldwide, according to Pollmann.

"As two of the leading pioneers in the hardware security modules business, Atalla and Utimaco are a perfect match, operating in complementary markets with aligned strengths that will help drive better alignment for customers and position Atalla for future growth," John Delk, Micro Focus's general manager of security, said in a statement.

Despite the planned Atalla sale, Delk said Micro Focus remains committed to its security software portfolio focused around users, applications and data. Micro Focus is committed to meeting demanding data security challenges at scale while simplifying and improving time to value, according to Delk.

Utimaco is slated to become the fourth corporate entity to oversee the Atalla business in as many years. Atalla was split off from Hewlett-Packard in November 2015 and became part of Hewlett Packard Enterprise. Less than two years later, Atalla and other HPE software assets were spun off and merged into Micro Focus.

Utimaco's proposed buy of Atalla comes just eight months after the business line was acquired by Micro Focus.

The Atalla product line enjoyed enhancements in recent years, with HP launching the Atalla IPC Express in September 2015 to help organizations deal with the growing challenge of unstructured data in the enterprise. The offering automates the data classification and subsequent protection levels of unstructured data, including information in Office documents, PDFs, email, attachments and images.

One year later, HPE integrated the Atalla HSM with HPE SecureData to create true end-to-end encryption protection regardless of whether data sits on a device or in the cloud. HPE said at the time the integration would move partners away from a "walls and silos" approach to data security and toward a more open architecture with greater flexibility and simplicity.

This move comes just seven months after Symantec sold its web security and public key infrastructure practice to web and IoT security player DigiCert for $950 million. DigiCert has been well-regarded for its modern certificate management platform as well as its ability to discover and replace certificates easily.