Symantec has always been a company that believes in growing through acquisitions, and now the company is making a big one: Symantec has announced it will be paying $1.28 billion to acquire VeriSign’s Web security business, including the company’s SSL security services for securing online transactions, along with public key infrastructure and identify management and verification services. The move is a major play for Symantec, which in recent years has established itself as a major purveyor of security software for personal computers and corporate networks. Now, the company is stepping further out onto the Internet, acquiring technology and service to secure online transactions—and that ties directly into not only e-commerce but mobile and cloud-computing security.
“With the anonymity of the Internet and the evolving threat landscape, people and organizations are struggling to maintain confidence in the security of their interactions, information, and identities online,” said Symantec president and CEO Enrique Salem, in a statement. “With the combined products and reach from Symantec and VeriSign, we are poised to drive the adoption of identity security as the means to provide simple and secure access to anything from anywhere, to prevent identity fraud, and to make online experiences more user-friendly and hassle-free.”
The sale of the Web security business is just the latest in series of sell-offs from VeriSign, which in recent years has let go of its oddball mobile business (insurance and ring tones) along with a large division that managed billing for telecoms.
From the deal, Symantec essentially gets VeriSign’s SSL certificate business, along with the identity management and public key infrastructure services that support it. SLL certificates are used to encrypt and secure online transactions: connections made via SSL are shown with padlock icons in almost all modern browsers, and the technology is key to maintaining the security of not only online commerce transactions, but protecting sensitive information like account passwords, email, and other information in transit between a user’s computer and an Internet services. While VeriSign is by not means the only purveyor of SSL certificates, they are one of the major players, and the company has parlayed its lead in the field into a “VeriSign Trusted” branding that appears on a large number of major Web sites. However, VeriSign’s security business has faced increasing pressure from other company selling cheaper SSL certificate services.
Symantec plans to leverage the technology and business infrastructure not only to create a new revenue stream, but to extend the security technologies out to mobile and cloud-based computing services.
VeriSign, for its part, plans to focus on its business as a domain registrar: the firm maintains operational control of the lucrative
.net top-level domains, and receives a fee for every domain renewed or created in those spaces, regardless of the registrar handling the transaction.