Business

Symantec offloads its certs and web security biz to DigiCert

Reports solid Q1 and makes spats with Google and Mozilla someone else's problem

By Simon Sharwood

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Symantec sold its Website Security and related PKI solutions to DigiCert, effectively making its spat with Mozilla and Google someone else's problem.

Google had problems with the way Symantec handles certificates since 2015 and their dispute flared anew early this year after a Symantec partner issued dodgy certs. Google weighed in with some unsolicited advice on how to run a CA and Mozilla endorsed the Alphabet subsidiary's suggestions.

Symantec has now announced the sale of its PKI business, for “US$950 million in upfront cash proceeds and approximately a 30 percent stake in the common stock equity of the DigiCert business at the closing of the transaction.”

In a conference call to mark the company's Q1 2017 results, Symantec CEO Gregory S. Clark said the sale “sharpens our Enterprise Security business focus on our Integrated Cyber Defense Platform strategy” and should also mean better service for punters because DigiCert does nothing but SSL and PKI. It should also be good for Symantec's bottom line: Clark said the chance to tap into DigiCert's profits will see Symantec “increasing our long-term outlook for Enterprise Security organic revenue growth to high-single to low-double digit compared to our previous outlook of mid to high-single digit organic revenue growth.”

The products DigiCert will acquire did, however, represent $350m of annual revenue for FY 2017, so the $669 million and 41 per cent year-over-year growth reported in this quarter will dip once the transaction closes.

Overall, Clark declared himself satisfied as the company saw good sales for endpoint protection and customer enthusiasm for the fact its range spans PCs and mobile devices. The result was net income of $221m on revenue of $1.225bn. The latter figure was up 39 per cent year on year improvement and about $30m more than expected. Net income was up 25 per cent from Q4 2017's $177m.

The CEO said Symantec's long efforts to integrate its enterprise products, and digest acquisitions like BlueCoat, have resulted in a “Cyber Defense Platform” that is “becoming a significant competitive differentiator for us”. So differentiating that the CEO said it's allowing the company to score sales that displace rivals in some very big deals. Clark was also chuffed that Symantec products repelled more than a billion attempted WannaCry and Petya infections.

“Neither attack had virtually any impact on our customers,” he purred.

Clark also addressed plans for recently-acquired companies Fireglass and Skycure. The former is a threat isolation tool Clark feels will receive a warm welcome from security pros as it helps reduce false positives in security operations centres by containing potential issues, while also making it harder for attacks to escape from email or browsers. Clark feels Skycure gives Symantec a superior mobile security story and that integrating it can only help its enterprise story.

On the consumer side, the company's pleased with the performance of its endpoint products and the recently-introduced “Core” secure Wi-Fi router. ®

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