Cisco to acquire security vendor Sourcefire for $2.7 billion

Cisco is set to expand its security software portfolio with the acquisition of Sourcefire in a deal worth $2.7 billion. 

The combined company will offer a product set that provides “advanced threat protection across the entire attack continuum – before, during and after an attack – and from any device to any cloud,” Cisco said Tuesday.

Both companies’ boards have approved the acquisition, which is expected to close later this year, according to Cisco’s announcement.

Sourcefire has about 650 employees and reported $223.1 million in revenue during 2012. It sells products for network security and malware protection and also offers IPS (intrusion prevention systems) appliances.

The pending acquisition follows Cisco’s purchase earlier this year of Cognitive Security, maker of software that employs artificial intelligence to spot threats.

Cisco has made many other security-related acquisitions in recent years. Overall, the company is looking to build out a security services platform architecture that provides a common, aggregated set of tools, said Christopher Young, senior vice president, security group, during a conference call Tuesday.

In the past, “you had a point [security] product for everything you could think about,” he said. “This is no longer a market where point product leadership is going to win out.”

Today, “the [security] perimeter is vanishing to encompass the mobile network and the cloud,” as well as other endpoints that “in many cases, the IT department no longer controls,” Young said. “When this is described as a war, it’s not an over-exaggeration.”

Cisco was also attracted by the “vibrant open-source community” that has sprung up around Snort, the intrusion detection and prevention engine created by Sourcefire’s founder and CTO, Martin Roesch, as well as Sourcefire’s highly skilled team of vulnerability experts, Young said.

While there are some overlaps between Cisco and Sourcefire’s products, the combined company “will offer customers a value proposition far beyond what they’ve got today,” Young said. Further details on how the companies’ respective products are to be combined will be released after the deal closes, he added.

Roesch will play a role at Cisco that covers the company’s overall security portfolio, and the rest of the leadership team will also join Cisco, according to Young.

While Sourcefire has built up a commercial business around Snort, the software “will remain free” following the deal’s close, Roesch said on the call.

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