McAfee Bids To Buy Stonesoft And Its AET Detection Firewall

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Next-generation firewall will add Advanced Evasion Techniques to strengthen McAfee’s portfolio

McAfee has made a conditional tender to buy Finnish network firewall company Stonesoft Oyj. The value of the offer is $389 million (£250m) in cash and on completion the purchase will boost McAfee’s channel offerings.

This has been seen as a strategic move for Intel’s McAfee to allow it to move into the large corporation and governmental security markets. One of Stonesoft’s specialisms is discovery of advanced evasion techniques (AETs) which use multiple detection avoidance methods in a network attack.

Combined defence

McAfee describes its rationale for the acquisition as being based on Stonesoft’s reputation as a leading innovator in the next-generation firewall segment. Gartner positioned the company as “visionary” in its 2013 Network Security Firewall Magic Quadrant.

With the acquisition, McAfee said it expects to grow its network security business based on three platforms: IPS Network Security, Firewall Enterprise for the high assurance market segment, and Stonesoft’s next-generation firewall.

Michael DeCesare, McAfee’s president, said, “With the pending addition of Stonesoft’s products and services, McAfee is making a significant investment in next-generation firewall technology. These solutions anticipate emerging customer needs in a continually evolving threat landscape.

“We plan to integrate Stonesoft’s offerings with other McAfee products to realise the power of McAfee’s Security Connected strategy,” he explained.

Stonesoft’s firewall is based on combatting several kinds of  AET, a network attack that combines several different known evasion methods to create a new exploit delivered over several layers of the network simultaneously.

In their nature, an AET  does not necessarily cause malicious damage but it can provide a backdoor into the system through which the attacker can  gain access to the network. With around 200 known evasion techniques, an AET can combine just a few of them to create millions of exploits – none of which would be recognised by current intrusion detection system (IDS) products.

The inclusion of Stonesoft’s firewall and investigation team will bridge a gap in McAfee’s armoury and strengthen the protection it can offer for the new generation of sophisticated intrusion techniques.

“The combination of the two companies allows Stonesoft to benefit from McAfee’s global presence and sales organisation of over 2,200 employees, best-in-class threat research and technology synergies” said Ilkka Hiidenheimo, CEO of Stonesoft.

Author: Eric Doyle
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