Cisco buys network security company Perfigo

Network equipment maker Cisco said it intends to buy Perfigo for $74 million in cash, boosting the company's efforts to secure network "endpoints" and protect them from worms, viruses and hacking.

Network equipment maker Cisco said it intends to buy Perfigo for $74 million in cash, boosting the company's efforts to secure network "endpoints" and protect them from worms, viruses and hacking.

San Francisco-based Perfigo sells network access control technology for securing endpoints such as remote worker desktops, mobile and wireless computers. Perfigo will join Cisco's Security Technology Group and the company's products, including SecureSmart and CleanMachines, will be added to Cisco's evolving Network Admissions Control (NAC) portfolio. NAC uses client security programs and Cisco network gear to inspect machines before they are connected to corporate networks.

Founded in May 2002, Perfigo is privately held and backed by venture firm Greylock. The company unveiled its first product, SecureSmart, last April. The product allows customers to manage and authenticate users connecting to wired and wireless networks. The company's second product, CleanMachines, appeared in November 2003 and combines network- and device-based vulnerability scans with network security policies to evaluate the security of user machines.

Using CleanMachines, customers can quarantine devices that do not adhere to security polices in an isolated area of a network, then use network-based compliance and remediation tools to resolve any security issues raised in the scan, according to information on Perfigo's Web site.

Perfigo's software runs on a hardened Linux platform and ties in with an enterprise's user authentication infrastructure, using technologies such as Lightweight Directory Access Protocol, Remote Authentication Dial-In User Service and Kerberos. The company's products are popular among colleges and universities, will complement Cisco's current NAC technology and will give Cisco a product that appeals to small and medium enterprises, according to Cisco's statement.

Unveiled in November 2003, the NAC program is part of Cisco's Self-Defending Network strategy and pairs the San Jose equipment maker with security companies, including Computer Associates, IBM and anti-virus companies like Symantec, McAfee and Trend Micro. In June, Cisco announced software updates that allow its IOS routers to enforce endpoint access privileges based on security information such as the state of anti-virus software updates and operating system patch levels. NAC will be extended to Catalyst switches and VPN concentrators in the first half of 2005, Cisco said.

The Perfigo acquisition is just the latest in a series of moves designed to boost the NAC program.

On Monday, Cisco and Microsoft agreed to promote better interaction between NAC and Microsoft's competing endpoint security architecture, called Network Access Protection, which will integrate endpoint security policy features into the Windows operating system.

On Oct. 13, CA said that it was joining the NAC program and will integrate its recently purchased PestPatrol Anti-Spyware software and eTrust Antivirus products with the Cisco Trust Agent, a software client that communicates the security status of NAC-enabled applications on a host machine to Cisco routers and switches that control network access.

Cisco expects to complete its acquisition of Perfigo in its second fiscal quarter, which ends Jan. 29, 2005. Cisco has already licensed CleanMachines and will begin selling it in October, Cisco said.

This story, "Cisco buys network security company Perfigo" was originally published by IDG News Service .

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