[ISN] Analysis: Symantec rattles security landscape

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Fri Jul 19 2002 - 09:02:17 PDT

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    By Brian Fonseca and Sam Costello 
    July 18, 2002 4:10 pm PT
    AS THE DUST begins to settle on Symantec's eye-catching $350 million
    cash purchase of three vastly different security vendors, big-name
    security players suddenly lodged squarely in Symantec's sights have no
    intention of sitting idly by and already are planning their next move.
    Bolstering its own formidable anti-virus and security appliance
    product set with a much broader security portfolio, on Wednesday
    Symantec placed its bid to assimilate Recourse Technology's anomaly
    and signature-based IDS (intrusion detection system) capability,
    SecurityFocus' vulnerability assessment technology, and Riptech's
    managed security range of services, according to Gail Hamilton,
    executive vice president of Cupertino, Calif.-based Symantec.
    In the short term, Hamilton said the acquired assets will be offered
    as separate products but will eventually be absorbed into Symantec's
    overall security management system starting with bundling in
    Recourse's IDS Manhunt product as its first priority.
    "[With the acquisitions we are] going to just leapfrog over [security
    competitors] with a commanding lead in the marketplace," said a
    confident Hamilton. "Our intent is not to be number two or three. We
    want to be number one."
    However, fallout from Symantec's feeding frenzy is drawing criticism
    that the task of integrating the triage of dissimilar security
    technology into a cohesive and affordable unit for customers will
    prove difficult to pull off.
    "I really question how effectively a company can bring together four
    very unique and different companies and solve customers' problems in a
    best-of-breed or best-of-class way," said Steve Grant, vice president
    of solutions management and business development at Atlanta-based
    Internet Security Systems (ISS).
    Remarking that he was "flattered" that Symantec would acquire pieces
    that directly oppose ISS' managed services offerings, IDS components,
    and X-Force research team, Grant said only a suite strategy can
    loosely tie together such different parts in a short period. He noted
    that enterprise customers in greater numbers are turning their backs
    on security suites in favor of point solutions capable of
    disseminating between a security-related performance problem and
    network outages.
    According to Hamilton, Symantec's acquisition of Mountain Wave earlier
    this month for $20 million will play a "major role" of integrating and
    leveraging its CyberWolf security event detection technology to power
    the security management system Symantec envisions. In fact, how much
    Symantec is capable of squeezing out of Mountain Wave will determine
    the success of its bigger high-profile acquisitions, said Pete
    Lindstrom, director of security strategies at Framingham, Mass.-based
    Hurwitz Group.
    Lindstrom said Symantec's blitzkrieg shopping spree will help the
    company narrow its focus and allow it to deliver upon its Symantec
    Security Enterprise Architecture. It has been touting for some time
    now that obvious gaps the company has struggled with have finally been
    filled. Hurwitz's Lindstrom said its competitors, both new and old,
    should expect a rejuvenated Symantec.
    "The thing that Symantec has that ISS doesn't is an anti-virus
    business. That is much more mature than IDS. Here's some opportunity
    to take that lead," said Lindstrom. "Certainly with the McAfee
    tug-of-war creating hassle [for Network Associates], it doesn't bode
    incredibly well. NAI needs to acquire to remain competitive in the
    enterprise security space."
    Symantec's aggressive nature to accrue its new components is evidenced
    by its pursuit and courtship of SecurityFocus, said the company's CEO,
    Arthur Wong.
    "We were not looking around to be acquired," said Wong, noting that
    although his company was above Symantec's financial forecasts, the
    security vendor came at them hard with a great deal. "The strategic
    combination for us was just too good to pass up."
    SecurityFocus' online presence, in particular its popular BugTraq
    security alert and discussion forum, will remain independent and will
    run by a separate team from Symantec, he added.
    Carefully watching from the sidelines, NAI says it also is on the move
    to strengthen its arsenal by actively signing "a couple" of letters of
    intent to acquire technology for augmenting its Sniffer and McAfee
    security products, said Sandra England, executive vice president of
    business development and strategic research at Santa Clara,
    Calif.-based NAI. She said the company is carefully treading its
    acquisition path in lieu of past experiences.
    "NAI was acquisitive in the past. We didn't always make a success of
    the acquisitions we made, so we want to make sure it's a right
    technology fit, and cultural fit," England said. "The ISS relationship
    is a very important with us and it may grow something into stronger in
    the future."
    In May, NAI and ISS announced plans to integrate a number of their
    products and research teams. Charles Kolodgy, research manager at
    Framingham, Mass.-based research firm IDC, said both security giants
    could reassess the depth of their partnership.
    "[Symantec] is really throwing the gauntlet down to CA [Computer
    Associates], ISS, Check Point, and Network Associates," said Kolodgy.  
    "They're going to put some pressure on other enterprise vendors that
    don't have the suite Symantec does."
    Count CA among security vendors that are not quivering in their boots
    despite Symantec's brash, quick-strike acquisition act. The Islandia,
    N.Y.-based software giant does not see Symantec as a legitimate
    enterprise security provider until it is able to protect customers
    against internal threats and properly secure mainframes, said Simon
    Perry, vice president of eTrust Security Solutions for CA.
    "Despite the acquisitions, they remain completely focused in threat
    management. But there are two other broad areas of interest to [the]
    enterprise: protecting against insider attack and hardening of
    internal systems," said Perry. "[But] if I was NAI and ISS, I'd be
    really worried about this."
    Brian Fonseca is an InfoWorld staff writer. Sam Costello is a
    Boston-based correspondent for the IDG News Service, an InfoWorld
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