RealTime IT News

BT Buys Counterpane to Shore Up Customer Data

The slew of security software and services companies being purchased continued today, with telecommunications provider BT  snapping up Counterpane Internet Security for an undisclosed sum.

Counterpane, founded by current CTO Bruce Schneier, provides managed networked security services for companies in retail, financial services and other markets to protect their corporate data from prying eyes.

Many customers buy security software that they install on their computers and other datacenter devices.

Counterpane offers a more hands-on approach, using a trained security staff to try to detect and quash cyber-threats before they cause major problems for companies.

Counterpane services include vulnerability scanning, e-mail and Web scanning, device management, distributed denial-of-service (DDOS) prevention and consulting.

Though do-it-yourself attitudes are lauded in certain circles when it comes to software, security is quickly becoming an area where many companies admit they need help.

This is because security threats are becoming so sophisticated -- think botnets that throttle multiple computers on a network. Accordingly, more companies are outsourcing the management of their security infrastructure to security service experts like Counterpane.

This approach meshes with BT's strategy to expand and develop its global professional services capabilities, adding a critical data-protection aspect to its offerings.

It also matches recent moves by IBM  and EMC  this year: Big Blue bought Internet Security Systems and EMC pocketed RSA Security.

Both offer managed security services.

Gartner analyst John Pescatore said BT probably had enough customers who requested managed security for devices, forcing BT to make a move after partnering with ISS, Symantec and others for years.

"This is them buying and saying 'okay, we're going to keep this revenue and do it ourselves," Pescatore said.

Pescatore said Counterpane had been a "bride's maid" a couple times, almost getting acquired but getting passed over for someone else. Symantec bought Riptech in 2002; VeriSign picked up Guardent in 2003.

"They either needed more funding or to get bought," Pescatore said.

He also said he expects more large overseas telcos and other businesses purchase U.S.-based security vendors for the comfort factor of not having to outsource security services.

Though not a publicly traded company, Mountain View, Calif.'s, Counterpane is well known and currently monitors 550 networks worldwide.

After the purchase closes, Paul Stich will remain Counterpane's CEO and Schneier will continue in his role as CTO.