Trend Micro snaps up UK-based email crypto firm

Scrambling for safety

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Trend Micro, the security firm best known for its PC-cillin anti-virus software, has acquired UK-based email encryption firm Identum. Terms of the deal, announced Monday, were undisclosed.

Identum's email encryption technology will be rolled into Trend's existing portfolio of content and web-security products under the Trend Micro brand. Created via a commercial spin-off from the University of Bristol's cryptography department, Identum's flagship product is Private Post. Identum claims its technology, based on elliptic-curve cryptography, is easier to use and administer than other approaches to rolling out corporate email encryption. The firm employs ten people.

Email encryption and anti-virus technologies have historically been seen as uneasy bedfellows. For one thing, it's necessary to decrypt messages before you could look inside them for malware. Encryption and anti-malware technologies have traditionally been offered by separate firms. Network Associates' (now McAfee) undistinguished stewardship of PGP is the exception that proves the rule.

More recently this has changed, with managed security firms such as MessageLabs offering email encryption as part of their portfolio. Trend Micro's foray into this space marks a move of one of the big four anti-virus firms into the market. Anti-spam firms became an acquisition target for anti-virus firms four or five years ago, and the same process may repeat itself in the encryption marketplace. ®

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