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Symantec Purchases SafeWeb

Expanding is roles in the computer software security industry, Symantec is buying privately-held SafeWeb for $26 million in cash.

SafeWeb Inc., based in Emeryville, Calif., makes software that enables enterprises to allow remote users to access secure computer networks, without requiring the installation of special software.

"The acquisition of SafeWeb is part of the bigger picture, where Symantec is leading security software vendor and it will continue to acquire, partner and build its own software to improve its product portfolio," said Fred Ziegel, senior vice president, Brean Murray & Company.

Symantec said it will offer customers the SafeWeb service as a standalone product beginning in the first quarter of 2004. Thereafter, Symantec has plans to integrate the features of SafeWeb's software into Symantec's Gateway Security Appliance later in 2004.

Symantec calls SafeWeb's software "clientless VPN technology," referring to virtual private network technology that does not rely on a client.

"There are two ways you can construct a VPN. Either using IPSEC , or you can come in over a Web browser using SSL technology. If you are a VPN vendor, you are going to want to support both IPSEC and SSL technology to meet all of your customers needs," Ziegel said.

"Some argue that SSL is the easier way to go, while other will want to use IPSEC technology for some applications and levels of security access," added Ziegel.

Symantec said one of the reasons for the acquisition was at reducing "the cost and complexity of deploying, managing and maintaining secure access to remote user," the company said in a statement.

"SafeWeb's SEA Tsunami is an SSL VPN appliance that enables companies to selectively grant secure remote access to network resources without the need to install additional software on the remote user's computer. Remote users can access virtually any application (Web, terminal, Outlook, Lotus Notes, legacy client/server) as well as email, file servers and printers. In eliminating the need for proprietary VPN client software, the SEA Tsunami drastically reduces the administrative cost and complexity traditionally involved in securing remote access while increasing ease of use and accessibility for end users," Symantec said.

In a separate announcement, Symantec on Monday said it is releasing Symantec Ghost 8.0 Corporate Edition. Symantec's software is a new version of its software program for IT administrators that need to issue software patches across an entire network.

Symantec says Ghost 8.0 provides customers with a comprehensive PC management solution and allows for "an effective solution for operating system deployment, software distribution and back-up and disaster recovery."

Symantec says Ghost 8.0 Corporate Edition has new hardware and software inventory features, which enable IT administrators to manage their networks from a central location.

Symantec goes to say the new software suite offers "operating system deployment, configuration, computer migration and software deployment across hardware platforms and operating system types. The solution offers IT administrators the ability to deploy or restore an OS image or application onto a PC in minutes and easily migrate individual user settings and profiles to customize the PC."

Some of the specific features of Ghost 8.0, include hardware/software investor, client staging area, multicast file transfer, Microsoft Preinstallation Environment (WinPE) Support, External Media Support and, Enhanced File System Support.

On Wednesday, October 22, Symantec will report its quarterly financial results.

Ziegel said he expects to see Symantec continue to make acquisitions for specific technologies to augment its product portfolio, and the purchase of SafeWeb is a drop in the bucket, given Symantec's significant cash reserves to go towards merger and acquisition activity.