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Cisco Buys IronPort For Email Security

By: David Utter

Cisco is taking the malware battle to the gateway to thwart spam and spyware threats by acquiring IronPort Systems, which makes messaging security appliances.

Cisco Buys IronPort For Email Security2007 looked like it would be the year when the battle against spam and other Net traveling threats would bring forth a much stronger response from businesses vexed by junk messages. It took all of four days of the new year for that prediction to come true.

Cisco (CSCO) will pay about $830 million in cash and stock to pick up IronPort. The company's spam-fighting technology will be incorporated into Cisco products.

"We feel there is enormous potential for enhanced email and message protection solutions to be integrated into the existing Cisco Self-Defending Network framework," said Richard Palmer, senior vice president of Cisco's Security Technology Group. "Using the network as a flexible platform to integrate IronPort's technologies, Cisco will be able to build new security applications as customers' demands evolve."

Cisco's networking products dominate the Internet landscape. Its routers and other gear carry millions of packets of information around the world every day. By adding IronPort to the mix, Cisco will be able to deliver products that should have an impact on the criminals who crank out spam, virus, and phishing messages.

IronPort's products will include technology from PostX, an email encryption technology company IronPort bought in November 2006. Authentication associated with the use of PostX will enable businesses to secure messages, an important feature in an era of federal regulation from acts like Sarbanes-Oxley and HIPAA.

One feature of PostX should receive some promotion once Cisco's corporate sales teams learn more about it. When a secured message has been sent using PostX, it can also be recalled. "For those email users that have accidentally hit 'reply all' when they meant to hit 'reply', the value of this feature is self-evident," said PostX CEO Cayce Ullman back in November.

The IronPort deal should solidify Cisco's already secure place atop the networking industry. Once a few systems have been deployed with successful results against inbound spam and other messaging threats, other companies may take note and make similar Cisco equipment deployments too.

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