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Cloud Fusion: Webroot Buys Prevx

Acquisition of U.K. cloud-based client security firm aims to lighten the security load for end users
Security-as-a-service provider Webroot has purchased Prevx, a purely cloud-based antivirus provider in the U.K., with plans to extend the cloud security for clients to mobile devices as well.

Webroot, which had previously acquired content-classification, URL reputation, and cryptographic vendors, says Prevx's client technology rounds out its existing cloud service for email and Web traffic. "Prevx is the third cornerstone here. We've been protecting users from Web and email threats, and we see this as a natural extension of our client technology," says Gerhard Eschelbeck, CTO at Webroot, which did not disclose financial terms of the deal. "We are also looking forward to making this manageable from the same console."

The acquisition represents a consolidation of cloud-based security providers, with Webroot looking to offer a broader array of security services from the cloud.

Eschelbeck says Prevx's technology, which uses a lightweight client that passes the processing to the cloud, is the wave of the future. "We take away a lot of the burden from the customer," he says.

Prevx's behavior-based malware detection technology is about one megabyte, versus the average of 20 MB for cloud AV client packages, says Mel Morris, founder of Prevx and vice president and now general manager of Prevx operations at Webroot. "Our client is more concerned about making sure the cloud understands what's happening on the client. The cloud-based AV companies have medium to heavyweight clients that still rely on the original AV architecture," he says. "Our client calculates signatures on the object and sends them into the cloud. Then all it gets back is a simple decision: the app is good to go, or the app should be stopped."

Webroot CEO Dick Williams says this marks a new approach to malware detection and prevention. "It allows you to detect things in real time as they are beginning to occur versus signature-based solutions," he says.

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