Intel Buys McAfee – Should You Care?

Intel’s deal for McAfee comes amid Symantec’s deal for PGP, IBM’s for BigFix, and Hewlett-Packard’s for Fortify.

Security analysts are still digesting the implications of Intel acquiring McAfee for $7.68 billion. The purchase plan comes four months after McAfee was forced to apologize for an antivirus update that shut down Windows XP computers around the world — including PCs at Intel.

Intel said it’s investing in McAfee, in part, to address billions of new Internet-ready devices, including mobile and wireless devices, TVs, cars, medical devices, and ATM machines as well as the accompanying surge in cyberthreats.

As a result of this particular acquisition, Intel hopes to now deliver security as part of their hardware and device business line. This not only changes the security landscape, it will have a ripple effect throughout the industry.

With about 80 percent of the PC processor market, Intel is looking for ways to grow in other areas of computing. Adding McAfee to the Intel mix will offer the chipmaker three benefits: Additional technology to add value in smartphone devices that are coming under malicious hacker attacks, the ability to potentially embed security into the PC platform, and the capability to develop security within the cloud-computing infrastructure.

But the acquisition isn’t an automatic success. Intel will face challenges and given the risks associated with this deal, enterprise customers should be wary of making long-term commitments to McAfee until Intel’s intentions are clear. It would be best if McAfee was left to manage itself, largely as a stand-alone company but that decision is yet to be made.

Another potential problem is the many McAfee customers who have been upset with McAfee’s handling of the DAT file problem back in April which caused widespread service outages. Customers who have already been angling to jump ship could use this deal as an excuse to accelerate those plans.

This acquisition will have yet-to-be-understood impact on the IT security industry. Intel has elevated security to be on par with its strategic focus on energy-efficient performance and Internet connectivity. Chipmakers like AMD could feel pressure to add security features. Symantec could become an acquisition target.

Whatever happens – it’s always good to “stir up the pot” every once in a while –  it keeps the PC industry competitive which is always good for end users like you and me.  Let’s all just sit back and enjoy the ride

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