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IBM piles on security pounds with Ounce Labs buy

Big cheque confirms code checking firm checks out

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

IBM has announced a deal to buy privately-held code security review firm Ounce Labs. The terms of the deal, announced on Tuesday, were undisclosed.

Big Blue said Ounce Labs' technology would improve its application security and compliance portfolio, as part of its Rational software business division.

Ounce Labs has developed technology that scans software source code in order to pick out potential security and compliance flaws during the early stages of software development. Identifying vulnerabilities at an early stage makes them much cheaper to fix.

The technology also has applications for identifying and remedying vulnerabilities in legacy applications.

Ounce Labs competes with the better-known Fortify Software in an emerging segment of the information security business. Gary Jackson, chief exec of Ounce Labs, explained when we met him last year that "everybody knows about penetration testing, but not application testing".

"Security issues are not well understood in code development," he explained. "Developers at large don't care about secure code and are more focused on meeting deadlines."

In May, Ounce Labs began offering security assessment-as-a-service directly and through its channel. The strategy was designed to make it simpler for potential clients to begin using assessment technology, with pricing running from $5K for the review of 100,000 lines of code.

The scheme was designed to encourage firms to test drive the technology on a per-application basis, rather than shelling out a far greater sum up front for a per-seat or site license. ®

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