RealTime IT News

VeriSign Puts Faith in GeoTrust

VeriSign has taken yet another security software vendor out of independence for the good of its own agenda.

The registrar and Internet software provider today agreed to purchase smaller rival GeoTrust for $125 million in cash.

The deal will render moot a running debate about who is the leading SSL market provider, even though NetCraft claims VeriSign has 45 percent of the market to GeoTrust's 26 percent.

GeoTrust, of Needham, Mass., makes Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) software certificates to enable safe Web services transactions and verify computer user identities.

SSL is a popular protocol for securing a message transmission on the Internet and shoring up computer networks. Developed by Netscape, SSL included as part of both the Microsoft and Netscape browsers and most Web server products.

SSL and its descendant Transport Layer Security (TLS) are crucial to information exchange and transactions over the Web at a time when malicious perpetrators have become more savvy about working around security measures to access computers and networks.

The buy won't make VeriSign a contender of the ilk of Symantec in the security software market, but GeoTrust will become another weapon in its security portfolio to fend off cyber criminals.

It will also pump up its customer base.

VeriSign said in a statement that GeoTrust's channel of more than 9,000 direct resellers in more than 140 countries will complement its direct-sales SSL business, which currently serves more than 3,000 businesses worldwide.

"The acquisition of GeoTrust improves VeriSign's ability to serve the reseller channel market with technologies and services that are specifically tailored to their needs," said Judy Lin, executive vice president and general manager of VeriSign Security Services, in the statement.

The acquisition is expected to close in the second half of 2006.

VeriSign made its name as the top registrar by buying rival Network Solutions after tacking on digital certification specialists SecureIT and Thawte Consulting.

But the Mountain View, Calif., company has gotten hungrier for pieces of other pies along the way in its effort to grow and diversify its business.

VeriSign has spent the last three years racking up software vendors in sectors such as RSS, broadband delivery,messaging and multimedia.