Cisco to buy OpenDNS to boost Security Everywhere initiative

Cisco plans to buy up Internet security service provider OpenDNS for $635 million in cash plus other considerations to enhance its Security Everywhere initiative.

Cisco is acting quickly on its new Security Everywhere initiative with the announcement that it plans to buy Internet security service provider OpenDNS for $635 million in cash plus other considerations.

In announcing Security Everywhere at the Cisco Live conference earlier this month the company said one element of the initiative would be using the network as both a sensor and an enforcer of security policy. The sensors are embedded in Cisco gear and the enforcement could be augmented by the OpenDNS service.

OpenDNS, founded in 2005, offers a cloud service that prevents customers from connecting to dangerous Internet IP addresses, such as those known to be associated with criminal activity, botnets and malicious downloads.

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Cisco says the main asset OpenDNS brings is its predictive threat intelligence and visibility into malicious activity on the Internet. It can also extend protection to mobile devices not connected to corporate networks.

OpenDNS uses intelligence it gathers from its own extensive global network to rapidly block connections to IP addresses that it has determined represent threats. Because it is a service, OpenDNS can be deployed quickly and integrated with customers' existing security gear, Cisco says.

OpenDNS software as a service can use specific threat intelligence gathered by Cisco security gear that is deployed in customer networks to block traffic that could lead to attacks.

Security Everywhere will develop into an overarching security architecture over time, Cisco security chief David Goeckeler told Cisco Live, and the OpenDNS purchase seems to fit into the SaaS segment of this.

"To build on Cisco's advanced threat protection capabilities, we plan to continue to innovate a cloud delivered Security platform integrating OpenDNS' key capabilities to accelerate that work," writes Hilton Romanski, Cisco's head of business development, in a blog post. "Over time, we will look to unite our cloud-delivered solutions, enhancing Cisco's advanced threat protection capabilities across the full attack continuum--before, during and after an attack."

OpenDNS staff will fall under Goeckeler's security organization. The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2016, and in addition to cash will include assumed-equity awards, plus retention-based incentives, Cisco says.

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