• United States



by Dave Gradijan

Cisco Acquires IronPort E-mail Security for $830m

Jan 04, 20072 mins
CSO and CISOData and Information Security

Cisco Systems said on Thursday that it was buying IronPort Systems of San Bruno, Calif., for US$830 million in cash and stock.

The deal for privately held IronPort, which makes e-mail, Web and security management appliances, will add expertise in spam and messaging security to Cisco’s security portfolio. Cisco plans to use that technology as part of its Self-Defending Network framework, the company said in a statement. The deal is expected to close in the third quarter of Cisco’s fiscal 2007, which ends in April.

IronPort was founded in 2000 and has 408 employees. The company began as an antispam firm, using proprietary technology like its AsynchOS operating system and SenderBase e-mail and Web traffic monitoring network to sell high-capacity e-mail security gateway appliances that can quickly vet inbound e-mail, discarding up to 80 percent of inbound spam connections based simply on the reputation of the message’s sender.

Spam, which had fallen off the enterprise security radar in recent years, has become a hot issue again, as a new breed of “image” spam has found a way around spam filters and filled enterprise inboxes back up.

In December, IronPort released statistics from its customer installations showing a 100 percent year-over-year increase in spam message volume to 63 billion messages per day in October 2006. Image spam accounted for 25 percent of that total, a 421 percent increase from the same period in 2005.

But IronPort has also expanded beyond spam detection into areas such as antispyware, Web traffic content inspection, data encryption and compliance. The company purchased e-mail encryption firm PostX in November, adding message-level encryption to its product offerings. The company also announced a partnership with antispyware firm Webroot in October that combined the Webroot RockSafe E1000 SDK in IronPort’s S-Series Web Security Appliances.

As IronPort’s technology expanded to meet more challenges, the company became more attractive to major enterprise IT players such as Cisco, said Jon Oltsik of Enterprise Strategy Group.

In a security market that’s shifting from mere e-mail security to enterprise messaging security that includes IM, mobile devices and policy management, Cisco needs to “climb the stack,” Oltsik said. “It’s not just about perimeter security,” he said. “It’s about network security, and that means you have to understand that traffic isn’t just packets and frames.”

Paul F. Roberts, InfoWorld