Symantec said Monday it had agreed to acquire staff and technology licenses from Boeing’s Narus Inc. unit in a move to increase its presence in the corporate cyber security market.
Narus, which Boeing acquired four years ago, specializes in Internet-filtering software for intelligence agencies but, according to the Wall Street Journal, Boeing executives had indicated in recent months that commercial markets were proving tough to crack.
“That just didn’t materialize the way we thought it was going to,” Dewey Houck, vice president and general manager of Boeing’s Electronic & Information Solutions division, said.
For Symantec, WSJ said, the deal is “part of an effort to reinvent itself in a crowded and fragmented industry tackling a surge in high-profile breaches” suffered by banks such as JPMorgan Chase and retailers including Target.
Symantec announced in October that it would split into two publicly traded companies, one for computer security and the other for data storage. It will gain approximately 65 Narus engineers and data scientists with expertise in machine learning, security, big data analytics and networking.
“We are thrilled to bring the Narus team on board at this critical time in our company’s future,” Symantec chief technology officer Amit Mital wrote in a blog post. “We are building a new Symantec, and together I know we’ll bring to market solutions designed to solve tomorrow’s biggest challenges that only big data can address.”
Mital told the WSJ that the Narus engineers will examine the four trillion examples of malware Symantec has seen on customers’ machines to develop better algorithms to spot skilled hackers. “People with these skills are very, very hard to find,” he said.
Boeing’s acquisition of Narus was one of several that defense contractors made in the hope that they could leverage their prowess in protecting the Pentagon and their own servers through deals with banks, retailers and others being targeted by hackers.
Bloomberg noted that Narus was at the center of claims in 2006 by former AT&T technician Mark Klein that the technology was used by AT&T to assist the National Security Agency’s warrantless wiretap program.
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