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Cisco Systems intends to strengthen its security portfolio by buying OpenDNS,  a company that  provides a cloud-based service to block malware.

Cisco said this morning it will pay US$635 million for the company and its Umbrella service, which will add threat intelligence to its own offerings.

“As more people, processes, data and things become connected, opportunities for security breaches and malicious threats grow exponentially when away from secure enterprise networks,” Hilton Romanski, Cisco’s chief technology and strategy officer, said in a statement. “OpenDNS has a strong team with deep security expertise and key technology that complements Cisco’s security vision. Together, we will help customers protect their extended network wherever the user is and regardless of the device.”

Combining OpenDNS’ visibility, predictive threat intelligence and cloud platform with Cisco’s security and threat capabilities will increase awareness across the extended network, both on- and off-premise, reduce the time to detect and respond to threats, and mitigate risk of a security breach, the companies said.

“I think this is a very astute acquisition by Cisco,” industry analyst Zeus Kerravala, said in an email.  “Traditional enterprise security relied heavily on perimeter security devices like firewalls and IPS.  While these are still important, more and more cyber criminals are attacking the end user directly and circumventing the perimeter security systems.  The challenge with DNS resolvers is that the information passed back is the absolute truth so any kind of breach into a DNS system can direct sensitive corporate information to malicious sites. As the number of attack surfaces continues to grow because hackers are targeting workers, I believe it will raise the value of secure DNS resolvers, like OpenDNS and they will become as important and as pervasive to network security as firewalls and IPS/IDS systems.
“The acquisition of OpenDNS is another brick in Cisco’s security wall as it looks to help its customers protect their organizations across the security threat spectrum.”

The release says the OpenDNS team will join Cisco’s[Nasdaq: CSCO] security business group, but it didn’t say that will include company founder and CEO David Ulevitch.  He has been working in the IT industry for years, first, before entering high school at a small regional ISP, then at MP3.com, starting as an intern and eventually working in the content development department.

While in university he created a DNS management service, EveryDNS, which still runs today. OpenDNS was started in 2006. The company just opened a London office to spread it business to Europe and the Middle East.

In May OpenDNS opened its enforcement API to customers, allowing the threat intelligence generated by their security and incident response teams into threat prevention. By monitoring new indicators of compromise generated by internal or third-party threat intelligence feeds, customers can use OpenDNS’s platform to automatically prevent attacks against both on and off-network devices, the company said.



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