updated 09:10 am EDT, Thu August 19, 2010
Intel acquires McAfee for nearly 8 billion
Intel today surprised the tech community by acquiring antivirus developer McAfee for the equivalent of $7.68 billion in stock. The deal will open the door to tougher hardware security in processors themselves as well as tighter integration between chips and software in stopping security threats. Intel is most interested in security for mobile and embedded hardware, which often aren't as secure as full-size computers.
Both companies' boards have approved the deal but have an unspecified wait ahead before they can finalize the merger. The agreement hinges both on McAfee shareholders greenlighting the deal as well as clearing regulatory hurdles.
An acquisition of McAfee promises to shake up the security landscape, where McAfee was the primary rival to Symantec in supplying security, primarily to Windows users. The takeover may raise concerns that Intel could have an unfair advantage by making the same processors McAfee's software would protect. Symantec might also come under scrutiny if Intel ends up veering away from McAfee's traditional security software business.
It's unknown whether any of the security benefits would translate over to non-Windows platforms. Intel isn't necessarily precluded from developing hardware security that could also work in Linux or Mac OS X, but the nature of the market has left McAfee almost always supporting Windows, where many instances of rogue code exist.