Symantec buys VeriSign's secure payments business

Symantec Corp agreed to buy VeriSign Inc's widely used technology for securing payments over the internet in a deal worth $1.28 billion, the companies said on Wednesday.

The acquisition gives Symantec, the world's biggest maker of security software, VeriSign's internet security business including its crown jewel - the SSL technology for securing electronic payments and other internet transactions by scrambling the data when it travels over the web.
It comes less than a month after Symantec agreed to spend $373 million to buy two other makers of technology for encrypting data: PGP Corp and GuardianEdge.

Together the three acquisitions are part of a strategy by which Symantec is focusing on protecting content, rather than taking its traditional approach of securing the equipment where information resides.

"Devices are irrelevant," Symantec chief executive Enrique Salem said in an interview. "An iPhone is cool today. But who knows what will be cool tomorrow."

Salem said that he had approached VeriSign, whose headquarters is 200 yards from his office. As far as he knows there were no other bidders.

"They eat in our cafeteria," Salem said. "We've been in discussions for a very long time."