McAfee rebranding creates pure-play cyber security company

Global cyber-security firm Intel Security has been renamed McAfee and now operates as an independent company, completing a split from Intel that was flagged in September.
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Intel continues to own 49 per cent of the new entity, which was valued at $US$4.2 billion ($5.5 billion). Private equity investors TPG and Thoma Bravo own the remaining 51 per cent.

Widely known for its antivirus software, US-based McAfee has more than 200 million customers and detects more than 400,000 new threats a day.

McAfee is installed on 300,000 devices across a range of n government agencies.

Corporate vice-president Brian Dye, who was in Canberra last week, said the spin-out delivered a pure-play cyber-security company with a strong focus on innovation.

Mr Dye said the separation involved back-end changes for McAfee, but for customers it was business as usual.

He described cyber security as “the most pressing technical issue of our time” and said the company’s strong focus was to automate protection.

“We have to free up the time of human beings because, until we do, this game won’t change,” he said.

“That’s why we want to be a stand-alone organisation, to bring the full force and focus to that problem.”

Mr Dye said McAfee would continue as a privately owned company but added there could be “opportunities in the future to go public or do a different strategic transaction”.

In news sure to disappoint founder John McAfee, who left the company in 1994, Mr Dye said a name change was considered but rejected.

In 2014 Mr McAfee said he was elated the business was being renamed Intel Security “freeing me from this terrible association with the worst software on the planet”.

Mr Dye said Mr McAfee had not been associated with the company for many years.”We looked at it very carefully,” he said.

“McAfee is a very well known and trusted brand. What we want to do is evolve a great brand, rather than spend a whole bunch of money on marketing.

“We’d rather spend our money on giving customers better security.”

Mr Dye said the company was striving for “day zero” protection.

“The vast majority of attacks are seen and have full fixes for them in two to four days after the original attack has happened,” he said.

“The challenge is how do we keep pushing day zero protection, something that no one has ever seen before.”

Mr Dye said this could be achieved through machine learning and building security on platforms.

“If we can engineer on a platform it’s easier for us to add new features and it’s easier for customers to adopt those new features,” he said.

“It doesn’t help us if we provide a great new technology that will solve today’s newest threat, and it takes customers 12 months to adopt it.

“In the speed of this market, and the speed with which attacks come and go and shift, customers have to be able to adopt things within weeks or months of when we produce them, not quarters or years.

“As you close one door the attackers try to open another one. It’s a never-ending cat-and-mouse game.”

Mr Dye said independent validation of McAfee’s strategy came from leading PC manufacturers, which ship the company’s antivirus software on new PCs.

“With machine-learning technology we take advantage of the fact we have hundreds of millions of users around the world on multiple platforms,” he said.

“We use the visibility from that to bake it into our learning algorithms and other updates that all our consumers get day in, day out without having any idea that it’s happening.

“We want them to explore safely and do their business safely when they need to without having to worry about cyber security.”

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