Palo Alto Networks acquires security startup Morta to outsmart hackers

The combined company will provide enhanced automation technology to prevent attacks

By , IDG News Service |  Security, Palo Alto Networks

Palo Alto Networks, an enterprise security company, has acquired Silicon Valley startup Morta Security in a deal that the companies say will better help their clients defend themselves against increasingly sophisticated cyberattacks.

Palo Alto Networks announced the deal on Monday. The terms were not disclosed, but it represents the second high-profile security acquisition in recent weeks, following the purchase of Mandiant by FireEye, a Palo Alto Networks competitor. That deal was valued at around US$1 billion.

Morta is the first acquisition for Palo Alto Networks. The startup has been in stealth mode since it was founded roughly two years ago by former employees of the National Security Agency and the U.S. Air Force. The experience of Morta's founders, and the technology they have developed, is poised to help advance Palo Alto Networks' strategy of detecting and preventing cyberattacks before they become catastrophic, representatives from both companies said.

The acquisition comes as the number of cyberattacks are on the rise and hackers' methods become more sophisticated, they said. "The days are gone of the bad guy simply going after the data center," said Nir Zuk, CTO and founder at Palo Alto Networks. Now, more attacks on data centers are being directed through an end user's machine, sometimes through less secure mobile devices, Zuk said. That makes data centers more susceptible to invaders.

Retail giant Target, as well as Internet companies such as Snapchat and Twitter, have been victims of data breaches in recent months, giving rise to heightened concerns over cyberattacks. Other victims have included major media companies including The New York Times and The Washington Post, sometimes perpetrated by nation-state attackers.

As these attacks increase, IT security companies may be looking to expand their tool sets and enhance their offerings to clients, possibly through acquisitions.

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