Symantec, Pivoting to the Cloud, Buys Israeli Cybersecurity Firm Luminate


Cybersecurity business Symantec has bought Israel’s Luminate SecurityOpens a new window for a reported $200 million as it seeks to boost its cloud coverage.

Luminate specializes in what’s known as “software defined perimeter technology,” which allows users to safely connect from any device anywhere in the world to corporate applications on premises or in the cloud. The technology frees corporations to authorize access for users to specific resources, narrowing the scope for cyberattacks.

Founded in 2017, the company has offices in Tel Aviv and Palo Alto and last year raised $14 million from a range of US investors.

Symantec president and chief executive Greg Clark said the acquisition would strengthen the company’s ability to protect enterprise clients using a variety of cloud providers. “We anticipate more and more corporations will operate their business on infrastructure that is managed by multiple third parties such as Azure, AWS and Google. In this rapidly evolving world, trust in external infrastructure must be carefully considered as corporations can outsource infrastructure but must also remain responsible for data and users.”

He said that incorporating Luminate’s Secure Access Cloud product with Symantec’s Integrated Cyber Defense Platform “puts us at the forefront of security in the cloud era.”

Cloud providers offer their own well-regarded cyber protection: AWS hosts the US Defense Department, a testament to their faith in its security systems. But enterprises are increasingly adopting multi-cloud strategies, using a variety of providers.

And many are using hybrid cloud solutions, combining cloud and on-premise data centers. This means that businesses are looking to third party cybersecurity companies like Symantec to manage their complex security and privacy needs in the cloud.

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Luminate is the latest in a string of acquisitions by Symantec as it bolsters its corporate cloud security offer.

For years, the company was a leader in anti-virus software for PCs through its Norton Anti-Virus products. But PC sales went into decline at the beginning of the decade and Symantec’s products were undercut by new rivals. Symantec is now pursuing a dual strategy that offers consumer protection and enterprise cloud security.

The transition hasn’t been smooth. Symantec has been through four chief executives in the past decade as it struggled to boost sales for several years. In recent months, it has lost its finance director and operations director after an accounting irregularity.

In 2015, Symantec sold off its data storage arm Veritas to an investor group for $8 billion. This gave it the fire power to go on an acquisition spreeOpens a new window . Their biggest purchase to-date has been the $4.65 billion buyout of Blue Coat SystemsOpens a new window in 2016 from Bain Capital, which had paid $2.4 billion for the company a year earlier. In reality, the purchase appeared to be a reverse acquisition, as Blue Coat’s chief executive Greg Clark was immediately installed as chief executive of Symantec, which had been rudderless since previous chief Michael Brown had stepped down a few months previously.

Blue Coat added networking and cloud-security software to Symantec’s expertise in PC, email and data center products. While Symantec had specialized in endpoint security, essentially the securing of devices, Blue Coat focused on networking and encryption.

Analyzing data for emerging threats is an essential element of cybersecurity: Combining Symantec’s data on threats to PCs and emails with Blue Coat’s analysis of threats to data on cloud networks has bolstered Symantec’s overview of malware threats.

Symantec also gained Blue Coat’s staff, creating a powerhouse of 3,000 engineers.

The $2.3 billion acquisition of LifeLock, which offers consumer identity protection, followed a few months later. The business was merged into the Norton division which Symantec said would turn the business into the world’s “largest digital safety platform for consumers and families.”

Symantec has made eight other acquisitions since then, including Fireglass for $250 million, and making two purchases in a single day in November, 2018, with the procuring of Javelin Networks and Appthority.

These acquisitions have helped to boost Symantec’s sales. In 2018, it reported revenues of $4.85 billion, up 21% from 2017. While the past decade has been tough for the company, its strategy of divestment and acquisition seems to be paying off.

With Blue Coat’s Greg Clark in the driving seat, the company has had a period of rising sales, but the departure of senior executives following the accounting irregularities shows the Symantec’s journey into the cloud is far from smooth sailing.