Summary:

Assuming the deal goes through, Intel will see a boost in the firewall, evasion prevention and SSL VPN parts of its portfolio.

McAfee has bought Finnish network security outfit Stonesoft for $389 million in cash. It’s the biggest purchase the U.S. giant has made since it was itself bought by Intel for $7.68 billion back in 2010.

Although it’s always been very important, network security seems to be attracting an increasing amount of attention these days, largely due to high-profile hacks. The Stonesoft acquisition, should it go through the usual regulatory hoops, will give Intel a boost in the areas of firewalls, evasion prevention systems and secure VPN services.

Here’s how McAfee president Michael DeCesare put it in a statement on Monday morning:

“With the pending addition of Stonesoft’s products and services, McAfee is making a significant investment in next-generation firewall technology. These solutions anticipate emerging customer needs in a continually evolving threat landscape.”

McAfee will blend Stonesoft’s services with its own existing portfolio, in particular its IPS Network Security Platform and its Firewall Enterprise product, and it looks like Stonesoft’s “next-generation” firewall will continue to be a product in its own right. In the statement, Stonesoft CEO Ilkka Hiidenheimo noted that “the combination of the two companies allows Stonesoft to benefit from McAfee’s global presence and sales organization of over 2,200 employees, best-in-class threat research and technology synergies.”

Intel said in January that it intended to “deliver more integrated solutions and comprehensive protection across mobile devices, endpoints, servers, and network through an extensible framework,” and would embark on a series of acquisitions, development initiatives and new partnerships to do so. The Stonesoft buy appears to be a pretty loud shot in that salvo.

Stonesoft’s secret sauce is its Security Engine, which can adapt to act as firewall, unified threat management system, server load balancer or VPN concentrator as needed. The company’s military-grade firewalls can be deployed as software or in the form of hardware or virtualized appliances. It’s not yet clear what will happen to the parts of Stonesoft’s portfolio not mentioned in the statement, such as its intrusion prevention system, which is also powered by the Security Engine.

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