VeriSign to buy managed security service provider

Network security company VeriSign Inc. of Mountain View, Calif., has agreed to acquire Guardent Inc. for approximately $140 million in stock and cash.

Waltham, Mass.-based Guardent sells managed security services on the GSA Federal Supply Schedule.

The acquisition is expected to close in the first quarter of 2004.

"Federal, state and local governments are all interested in lowering their infrastructure costs and providing more efficient, convenient services for citizens," said Ben Golub, senior vice president VeriSign Security Services. "Governments have some of the most comprehensive security needs, and VeriSign's approach has been to help free them to concentrate on providing such services as online voting, identity management for law enforcement and diverse e-government services for citizens.

"Our integration of Guardent enables us to further enhance our intelligence and control services for government customers and meet their growing needs across several areas, including managed security services, e-authentication, online payments, fraud protection and other services," Golub said.

Managed security services are seeing increased adoption. Framingham, Mass.-based IT research firm IDC recently reported that the worldwide market for managed security services is $1.3 billion.

Managed security services are like home security systems in that an outside company uses hardware and software to continuously monitor a network from a security operations center.

VeriSign's Intelligence and Control services have been used in several government projects, including the Defense Department's online voting project. VeriSign has also provided services to the Security and Exchange Commission, the state of Kansas and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's JNET system, which enables law enforcement officials to securely share sensitive criminal information outside their agencies.

In its most recent analysis, Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner identified Guardent as a leader in the managed security services market.

Gartner also considers Computer Sciences Corp., Electronic Data System Corp., IBM Corp., Science Applications International Corp. and Unisys Corp. among the leading challengers for managed security services contracts.

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