Arik Hesseldahl

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EMC to Acquire Silver Tail Systems

Data storage giant EMC just announced that it has reached a deal to acquire Silver Tail Systems.

This is the privately held company that specializes in detecting fraud on the Web, and the reason venture capitalist Marc Andreessen was speaking so highly of security companies when he spoke at D: All Things Digital in 2011. His firm, Andreessen Horowitz, led Silver Tail’s $20 million B round.

Financial terms of the deal are not being disclosed, and EMC says it won’t be material to the 2012 fiscal year.

I just got off the phone with Scott Weiss, the partner at Andreessen Horowitz who led the firm’s investment. Weiss, you may remember, is the founder of IronPort Systems, now part of Cisco Systems, and became a partner at AH in March of 2011. He’s also a director at Silver Tail.

Silver Tail, he says, will essentially become part of RSA, the security branch of EMC that operates more or less independently within EMC.

Weiss told me that when AH made its investment, Silver Tail had about a dozen employees, two paying customers and a lot of promise. “I made 10 reference calls before doing the deal, and the customers made sure I knew they were not on the fence,” he said. “Some even told me they thought Silver Tail was charging too little.”

That’s not a bad sign. So, what does Silver Tail do, anyway? Banks and insurance companies and Web commerce companies use it to keep track of incoming traffic to their sites in real time, and to distinguish good traffic generated by normal customers from bad traffic generated by criminals probably trying to do bad and shady things that more often than not break the law.

It does this using a form of predictive analytics on live Web traffic, at a massive scale. Among the ways to tell good guys from bad are the speed with which they move from one page within a site to another, and the kinds of data they look for. Traffic that’s outside the norm gets flagged for additional scrutiny. Given that the normal patterns are known, there are almost never any false positives. Weiss told me that Silver Tail’s customers include Merrill LynchE-trade and Citibank.

Update: So I’m hearing from sources familiar with the deal that the purchase price was in the neighborhood of $300 million to $400 million. I’m going to try and narrow that down a little bit.

Also, I just got off the phone with Silver Tail CEO Tim Eades and RSA CEO Art Coviello. Here are a few more details on the deal. Eades is calling it a “match made in heaven,” in part because of RSA’s knowledge in understanding the specific needs and buying patterns that large enterprises have when it comes to security.

Coviello, who essentially runs RSA as an all-but-independent company within EMC, says that’s how Silver Tail will run initially. “At RSA we take the same Hippocratic Oath-like approach that EMC does with acquisitions, that of ‘first do no harm.’ Silver Tail has tremendous momentum and we’re certainly not going to upset that,” he told me. “That said, we have a specialized sales organization that understands the unique use cases of the Silver Tail technology.”

Here’s a hint at what kind of momentum. Eades told me that when Silver Tail recently deployed its product with a “large bank” with 21 million customers, it accomplished it within two days. Not bad.

EMC’s announcement is below:

HOPKINTON, Mass. and MENLO PARK, Calif., Oct. 30, 2012 /PRNewswire/ —

News Summary:

EMC Corporation announced it has signed an agreement to acquire privately-held Silver Tail Systems, a leader in real-time web session intelligence and behavioral analysis.

Silver Tail’s innovative technology enhances RSA’s position in the rapidly growing Web Fraud Detection market and complements RSA’s anti-fraud solutions that help leading banks and retailers thwart sophisticated cybercrime attacks.

Silver Tail’s pioneering product portfolio has witnessed rapid adoption by some of the largest brands in financial services, ecommerce and federal government.
Silver Tail’s Big Data approach to fighting cybercrime will help accelerate RSA’s strategy to leverage data analytics and adaptive risk-based controls for broader consumer and enterprise security use cases.

Full Story:

EMC® Corporation (EMC) today announced it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire privately-held Silver Tail Systems, a leader in real-time web session intelligence and behavioral analysis. Upon closing, Silver Tail will operate within the RSA security division and is expected to extend the capabilities of RSA’s Identity Protection and Verification (IPV) solutions, as well as other areas across RSA’s enterprise security portfolio. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The acquisition is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2012, subject to certain closing conditions. The acquisition is not expected to have a material impact to EMC GAAP or non-GAAP EPS for the full 2012 fiscal year.

The rapid evolution of malware and advanced online threats has left growing numbers of online banking, ecommerce and government web sites and their customers vulnerable to attack, account takeover and fraud. In response to this evolution organizations historically have focused on building fraud detection and security strategies that try to identify what a bad transaction looks like, creating solutions that must always play catch-up to the latest threats.

Silver Tail Systems’ web session intelligence is the response to this evolution in threats and fraud, using a Big Data-driven approach to gather and analyze mass quantities of information in real time and at scale to deepen visibility into web sessions and mobile traffic. The information is fed into Silver Tail Systems’ behavior analysis engine to review at both user and population levels to detect anomalies, IT security threats, fraud, insider threats, business logic abuse and other malicious activity.

Silver Tail Systems has been recognized as a leader by prominent industry analysts for its innovative approach and disruptive technology. Silver Tail’s solutions are deployed globally in large customer environments, helping to secure online banking traffic and ecommerce and government web sites and portals. Their team has extensive experience in building high-performance solutions that provide monitoring for upwards of 330,000 clicks per second for some of the largest ecommerce and banking providers on the market today.

Within RSA, Silver Tail is expected to contribute to multiple areas across RSA’s enterprise security portfolio. Silver Tail’s products will add a disruptive fraud-fighting technology designed to install and begin providing value in a matter of days, lowering complexity and cost of ownership. In addition, it is expected Silver Tail’s core transaction and behavioral analysis technology will help further extend the security analytics capabilities across RSA’s enterprise security solutions portfolio.

Executive Quotes:

Art Coviello, RSA Executive Chairman and Executive Vice President, EMC Corporation

“The industry is well beyond the point of providing effective security using static, perimeter point tools that fail to keep up with dynamic cyber attackers. Customers need better intelligence, analytics, and the ability to respond in real time which is a capability that Silver Tail’s products do extraordinarily well to help foil web-based attacks. Silver Tail offers proven anti-fraud solutions that complement RSA’s portfolio of risk-based and adaptive products and services.

“We see tremendous opportunity with Silver Tail at the intersection of Big Data and Security to leverage our collective expertise and technologies to move beyond the hype to execute on the vision of intelligence-driven security that is risk-based, agile and contextual. Together RSA and Silver Tail can deliver compelling solutions that leverage session intelligence and Big Data analytics to help our customers gain better visibility and control risk.”

Tim Eades, Chief Executive Officer, Silver Tail Systems

“Stopping cybercrime has never been harder than it is today. The recent attacks on the North American banking infrastructure are stark reminders of the pace of innovation in the cybercriminal ecosystem, the convergence of the fraud and info-security attack techniques and the profound responsibility of the CISO to help defend against these attacks.

“Silver Tail pioneered an approach that uses web session intelligence to provide unmatched visibility and the behavioral analysis that detects these threats and protects web-based platforms around the world. Together with RSA, we have an incredible opportunity to extend these capabilities beyond what we do today to protect web-based platforms. Silver Tail’s session intelligence technology demonstrates the capacity to expand the awareness and intelligence of what is occurring on the network with context, helping to rapidly sift through data to identify unexpected behavior and apply controls against advanced threats and malicious attacks.”

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