Cisco / IronPort Systems

Cisco Systems said Thursday that it has agreed to pay $830 million in cash and stock to acquire privately held IronPort Systems, a maker of anti-spam and anti-virus security products.

The deal is the latest in the quickly consolidating security-software market. Microsoft, Symantec and others have scooped up smaller firms so they can offer comprehensive consumer packages amid a wave of computer viruses, spam and phishing scams.

It also highlights Cisco's efforts to shed its image as solely a maker of networking infrastructure gear and capitalize on products and services that utilize the network itself, analysts say.

Cisco, which makes the routers, switches and other devices used to link networks and direct traffic on the Internet, has established itself in the network security arena. Cisco executives say they are keenly interested in entering the $2 billion-plus messaging security market.

The deal also allows IronPort to compete better with larger rivals such as Symantec and SOPHOS, Weiss said.

Cisco says it plans to retain virtually all of IronPort's 408 employees and keep its headquarters in San Bruno, Calif.

The acquisition allows Cisco to use data gathered by IronPort's technology and stop threats such as spam and computer viruses before they can reach a company's computer system.

The deal is expected to close in the third quarter of fiscal 2007.

It is the second mega-deal involving a security start-up in recent months. In July, Secure Computing acquired CipherTrust for $273 million.

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