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IT Security Market Consolidation Good for Consumers, WSJ Says

By Matthew Harwood

With all the various attack scenarios possible, it's no surprise the IT security marketplace is glutted with start-ups aimed at protecting computer users from everything from botnets to spoofing scams.

On Monday, however, the anti-malware giant McAfee bought Secure Computing for $465 million, a move The Wall Street Journal calls "the latest example of consolidation in a tech-security industry that desperately needs it."

By buying Secure Computing, McAfee adds another suite of products to its roster that handles Web-filtering, e-mail security, and firewall software, which blocks unauthorized traffic from accessing a network.

WSJ says this is a good thing because companies in the past had to buy security products from 20 to 30 different companies. The more the industry consolidates, it says, the more consumers will only have to shop around a few choice companies to get the array of security products they need.

McAfee's purchase of Secure Computing is only the latest example of an emerging trend:

McAfee isn’t alone when it comes to consolidation: Its rival, Symantec, has acquired four companies so far this year. Other companies that sell security products, such as Cisco, have also been snatching up small guys. Eventually these companies could go to market with a suite of products that work in coordination with one another.

Forrester Research Inc.'s blogger Chenxi Wang says McAfee's move puts pressure on its competition to do better content security.

What does this move mean for the rest of the market? It puts clear pressure on other players in the content security market, in particular Symantec. Symantec has a wide reach with its Brightmail product and a growing data leak prevention (DLP) business as a result of its Vontu acquisition, but its presence in the web security market is comparatively small. To compete with Websense and an invigorated McAfee, Symantec needs to strengthen its commitment in content security or risk losing market share.

And for those emerging IT security entrepreneurs who worry about the monopolization of the tech-security industry, Vimal Solanki, McAfee’s vice president of worldwide solutions marketing, says don't fret: cybercriminals will always dream up new methods of attack, so “there will always be room for start ups.”

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