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December 8, 2010

Trend Micro targeting US government with Mobile Armor buy, says CTO

Firm has 'limited reach' as non-US company

By Steve Evans

Security firm Trend Micro’s recent acquisition of data protection firm Mobile Armor will help the company establish a foothold within the US government, CTO Raimund Genes has told CBR.

The deal was announced at the end of November and at the time Trend said the move will boost its data protection offering on endpoints such as laptops, tablet PCs and smartphones. Mobile Armor’s data protection offerings provide full-disk, file/folder and removable media encryption for endpoints, the company said.

St. Louis, Missouri-based Mobile Armor has been awarded the US Department of Defense (DoD) Data at Rest Tiger Team award, meaning its products can be sold to the US government. "Mobile Armor technology is FIPS 140-2 Level 2 and 3 validated and is certified to meet the standards for security set by the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)," the company says.

This was one of the big drivers behind Trend’s decision to buy Mobile Armor, Genes told us: "We currently have a limited reach in the US government because we’re not a US-based company," he said. "We do a lot of business in Asia and the Middle East for the same reason – we’re not a US company."

Trend was founded in Los Angeles in 1988 but moved its headquarters to Tokyo in Japan in 1992.

"Mobile Armor has lots of presence in the US government and so this is one way to get in there," Genes added. The company’s customers in the government space include the US Navy, Air Force, Homeland Security, the White House and Army National Guard.

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Mobile Armor claims that each year over one billion mobile devices are used by government employees such as soldiers, healthcare workers and fire and law enforcement officers. US president Barack Obama of course famously fought to keep his BlackBerry with him when he entered the White House, which shows just how pervasive mobile devices have become.

Genes also said that the deal is unlikely to signal a shift in strategy from Trend Micro. The company has rarely made acquisitions; Mobile Armor was its second this year, after humyo in the summer. Generally the company makes one acquisition per year.

"We tend to go for smaller companies, those under $100m. It’s not because of money, we want organic growth," Genes said. "It’s also easier to integrate if it’s a smaller company because there are fewer people. In fact many people that have come on board through an acquisition are now paying a big part at Trend. Acquiring may be good for growth, but is that always the best of customers?"

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