Security vendor SonicWall acquired MailFrontier yesterday in a move that will help defend corporate networks against attacks lodged via e-mail.
The $31 million cash deal adds e-mail protection to SonicWall's portfolio of firewall and VPN appliances, storage platforms and security platforms. Sunnyvale, Calif.-based SonicWall is known for its secure content management and unified threat management (UTM) capabilities and has recently been buying other companies to fill gaps in its technology lineup.
"This acquisition is important for SonicWall, whose UTM technology was lacking in e-mail security, making its security message more compelling," said Charlotte Dunlap, an information security analyst with Current Analysis. "It is now in a better position to take on all-in-one appliance rivals including Fortinet and Check Point as well as traditional secure messaging players."
What MailFrontier, based in Palo Alto, Calif., brings to SonicWall's product table is e-mail protection that stops an enterprise threat at the door. MailFrontier's technology polices inbound and outbound e-mail threats such as spam, viruses and phishing. It also provides policy enforcement and control. Nasty intruders are prevented from entering the corporate network, while sensitive information is stopped before leaving.
Prior to this acquisition, SonicWall did not offer e-mail security capabilities. Although SonicWall already offers a Content Security Manager, the CSM 2100, which protects and filters at the Internet level, the product's feature set is focused on limiting access to questionable Web sites and protecting against threats coming through instant messaging systems, which also use Web-based technology. However, SonicWall's CSM 2100 product did not include protection against spam, phishing and other e-mail-borne threats.
Combined, these e-mail protection capabilities will help round out SonicWall's product lineup, according to Ed Cohen, vice president of corporate development with SonicWall. "When you look at the anti-spam segment, there are users who want software, they want appliances and they want managed services. MailFrontier lets us offer all three."
The MailFrontier acquisition is the latest in a buying spree by SonicWall. The company recently paid $20 million for two companies: Secure Socket Layer (SSL) and VPN equipment maker, enKoo and Lasso Logic.
Cohen illustrated a situation where technology from SonicWall's latest acquisition would increase security to enterprises. For example, anything marked confidential could be flagged and quarantined before it leaves the building. "Administrators can go into MailFrontier's product and set up a policy that watches for anybody who is sending an e-mail with an attachment that says confidential. It will get flagged and stopped so it is providing control for content compliance," said Cohen.
Details about exactly how the MailFrontier products will be incorporated into SonicWall's product lineup have not yet been announced. In the meantime, security vendors are merging at a furious rate. Other recent transactions include Symantec's acquisition of IMlogic, Juniper Networks' purchase of Funk Software, Citrix Systems' acquisition of startup Teros and an acquisition by Force10 Networks of vendor MetaNetworks.
"It will take some time before the [MailFrontier] technology will be integrated into SonicWall's products, and the consolidation trend will only continue in the threat protection market," Dunlap said.