F5 Beefs Up Security Capabilities with Versafe Acquisition

Locking down endpoints is a losing battle, says Versafe. F5 acquisition will allow them to take the battle to the application layer on a much grander scale.

By Jude Chao | Posted Sep 18, 2013
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With yesterday's announcement of its acquisition of Tel Aviv-based security company Versafe, F5 Networks further fortifies its security offerings.

Versafe was established in 2009 by Eyal Gruner, Boaz Zilber, and Idan Amir, former BugSec founders who teamed up after Gruner, at age fifteen, successfully tunneled into a major Israeli bank's backend system through a branch ATM—twice. The company's web anti-fraud, anti-phishing, and anti-malware solution applies obfuscated code to the web or mobile application layer to "detect any nefarious or malicious attempts to modify the application while, in parallel, encrypting key data being exchanged between the endpoint and the application," according to Jens Hinrichsen, Versafe's VP of marketing and business development.

Versafe believes this approach far superior to the traditional approach of applying protection to endpoints. "We don't require users to download endpoint software. The attempt to lock down and protect the endpoint is a losing battle. It's got to be at the data level, the application level," Hinrichsen said.

Powerful, but until now, the process of integrating the Versafe SDKs was an involved one. It required application developers to integrate the SDKs one app at a time, as Mark Vondenkamp, VP of security products at F5, explained.  F5 integration will change all that, since the F5 BIG-IP application delivery platform will be able to inject those capabilities directly into application traffic as an iRule.

"The beauty of this is that you wipe out any application developing, testing, and hardening before something goes live. We can apply this protection across your user base, all devices, and we can do it tomorrow," Hinrichsen said.

F5's acquisition of Versafe will allow the company, which previously already considered F5 a key partner in its business strategy, to reach a far broader audience than it had engaged before. F5 has a "practically omnipresent footprint globally," Hinrichsen said. Current plans for Versafe revolve around additions to F5's Application Delivery Firewall, Identity and Access Management, and Mobile Application and Device Management solutions.

For F5, meanwhile, this is "an incremental market opportunity. We're not selling into the web anti-fraud market at the moment, so there's an opportunity right there. And it fits right in to our overall strategy," Vondenkamp said.

F5 already has a Versafe-integrated solution, Vondenkamp added, with which the vendor will target accounts on a case-by-case basis. In addition, F5 will soon launch the solution as part of its standard offering. The company could not provide a firm date for that, however.

The marriage between F5 and Versafe is "the ultimate home run," Hinrichsen said.

ENP editor Jude ChaoJude Chao is executive editor of Enterprise Networking Planet. Follow her on Twitter @judechao.

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