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Trend Micro Picks Up InterMute, Buys Into Anti-Spyware Market

InterMute sells both consumer and enterprise versions of an anti-spyware product under the SpySubtract label. InterMute's code reportedly will enable Trend to easily offer a stand-alone product, and also integrate anti-spyware into its core products.

Gregg Keizer

May 10, 2005

3 Min Read

Trend Micro on Tuesday announced that it would acquire a relatively unknown player in the anti-spyware space, and would roll out stand-alone enterprise editions of new anti-spyware software within 60 days.

Tokyo-based Trend, which has a U.S. office in Cupertino, Calif., will pay "in the double digits," said Lane Bess, president of the company's North American operations, for InterMute, a Braintree, Mass.-based developer best known for its AdSubtract consumer ad-blocking software. According to the agreement Trend's striking with InterMute, it will pay approximately $15 million for the 35-person company.

InterMute sells both consumer and enterprise versions of an anti-spyware product under the SpySubtract label. Although InterMute's president, Ed English, said that his company had been working on anti-spyware technologies for the last three years, it was only in December, 2004, that it rolled out SpySubtract Enterprise Edition, a centrally-managed thin client anti-spyware solution deployed from a server.

Even Trend Micro wasn't familiar with InterMute, admitted Bess, when it first started searching for an acquisition. "But as we looked at it, we were taken with how its technology complemented ours," said Bess. "We were really pleased that their code provided a way to easily offer a stand-alone product, but to also integrate anti-spyware with our core products."

The fact that InterMute had introduced an enterprise edition was crucial, Bess said, to making the company an attractive acquisition. Within 60 days, he went on, Trend would release a branded, stand-alone enterprise anti-spyware product. A consumer version should be available within 30 days, Bess said.

By the end of the year, Trend plans to integrate InterMute's anti-spyware technology to its core desktop, server, and gateway products, Bess said. "Our ultimate goal is to consolidate our technologies into one scanning engine." For the time being, however, Trend customers deploying an InterMute-based product will have to run multiple scanning engines to detect and destroy, say, both malicious code and spyware.

"One of the reasons for the acquisition is the dynamic changes in the security threat market," said Eva Chen, Trend Micro's chief executive. "We want to try every approach possible to improve the software we deliver to customers," she said.

The other two anti-virus vendors prominent in the enterprise -- McAfee and Symantec -- have taken a different tack toward adding anti-spyware defenses. Both McAfee and Symantec are using home-grown anti-spyware technologies. Even they, however, differ in their pricing plans.

McAfee charges extra for anti-spyware, while Symantec plans to integrate it into existing products -- it's already released a beta of its first effort, Norton Internet Security 2005 Anti-Spyware Edition -- and intends to hold to current prices.

Trend will follow the McAfee model, said Bess. "Anti-spyware will be an add-on feature, so there will be a charge." He didn't elaborate on pricing. Before the acquisition, InterMute sold the consumer version of SpySubtract for $29.95 and the enterprise edition for at prices starting at $2,495 for 100 seats.

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