Cyber security: IBM ramps up its analytics armoury

Trusteer acquisition shows the IT giant is solutions-led, says IBM’s Martin Borrett

One of the most talked-about transactions in the cyber security industry in recent weeks has been IBM’s acquisition of Trusteer, an Israeli provider of endpoint cybercrime prevention solutions targeted mainly at financial organisations, for a rumoured $1bn (£620m).

Seven of the top 10 US banks and nine of the UK’s top 10 are now using Trusteer’s solutions to help secure customer accounts against financial fraud, identity theft and, crucially, cyber attack.

“IBM has always focused on information security,” Martin Borrett, a director at the IBM Institute for Advanced Security Europe explains. “Security is an increasing concern that is incorporated in everything we do and we’ve made a significant number of acquisitions to reflect this [Trusteer is the 15th] including Q1 Labs and Internet Security Systems. Ultimately, IBM’s Smarter Planet initiative will only be successful if we have the right security measures in place.

“Now, however, we are looking to offer security as a standalone range of services and have started exploring other aspects of security such as fraud prevention. In that respect, Trusteer adds depth and strength to what we do. Together with our capabilities in advanced threat detection, analysis and remediation, we will be in a position to offer several additional layers of defence against sophisticated cyber attacks, including in our QRadar suite. That’s the way forward: integrating security as a component of what we do.”

The Trusteer deal will advance the investment IBM is making in cloud-delivered software and services, one of the few areas where the company is still experiencing growth. The IT giant’s Q2 earnings report saw sales shrink by 3.3 per cent to $25bn, with mobile and cloud-focused businesses some of the only units to show signs of growth.

The company says strategic growth initiatives including data analytics, cloud computing and Smarter Planet solutions support its shift to higher value business, as did growth in its BRICs-based units. By 2015 IBM expects its cloud business to hit $7bn. 

Interestingly, it recently secured a $30m contract with the US General Services Administration to build a cloud-based platform for the agency’s management system.

Ultimately, IBM believes the development of the ‘internet of things’ and the rise of new threat and attack vectors means there is always room for improvement, and new prospects to grow its security offering. 

Borrett says the company is focusing on solutions more than hardware or software – a strategy that encourages the development of an off-the-shelf offering.

“One of the challenges of cyber security is dealing with huge volumes of data,” he says. “Analytics is an area IBM is significantly investing in.”

As part of this, IBM has confirmed that the addition of Trusteer will help it flesh out its cyber security lab in Israel to focus on mobile and application security, advanced threats, malware, counter-fraud and financial crime.

“We’re already doing research in Israel,” says Borrett, adding: “We’ll now be able to increase the lab’s mass to more than 200 people, which would have been hard organically.