EMC Buys NetWitness to Bolster RSA Security

Consider this the latest round in the Boston-area data security war. Hopkinton, MA-based EMC (NYSE: EMC), the data storage giant, said today it has acquired NetWitness, a Virginia-based network security company. Financial terms weren’t given, but EMC says the deal is not expected to have a material impact on the firm’s revenue or earnings per share for the 2011 fiscal year. NetWitness, which has about 130 employees, will operate as part of RSA, the security division of EMC. An EMC spokesperson says the NetWitness team will stay in its new office in Reston, VA, and there are currently no plans for layoffs.

Last month, RSA suffered a much-publicized cyber attack and data breach, related at least in part to RSA’s authentication products, which are widely used by government and big companies to secure sensitive data and documents. RSA recently posted more details about the attack, saying it all started with “phishing” e-mails (with spreadsheet attachments containing malware) sent to RSA employees.

NetWitness, which was founded in 2006, makes software for network monitoring and analysis, as well as identifying advanced types of malware. So its technology, combined with the rest of RSA, should help organizations guard against the “advanced persistent threats” that are targeting critical infrastructure and intellectual property worldwide. That is an area of major tech activity in the Boston area, where numerous companies and research groups are working on software methods to combat these evolving cyber threats.

Today’s EMC acquisition is also part of a broader growth strategy for the firm. We previously documented EMC’s approach to acquisitions last fall (right before its $2.25 billion purchase of Isilon Systems) and, before that, in 2008.

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