Security

Intel ‘Looks’ To Sell Off Security Unit

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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The chip maker is reportedly looking into unloading Intel Security amid rising demand from business

Intel is considering selling its computer security unit, according to reports. The chip maker bought McAfee for $7.7bn (£4.9bn) nearly six years ago and remained the division Intel Security in 2014.

The acquisition was made with the intention of integrating McAfee’s technology into its processors,  but Intel has been talking to bankers about a possible sale of the unit, according to the Financial Times.

Rising threats

Intel2The sale would be one of the largest in the computer security sector, the FT said, citing unnamed people with knowledge of the discussions. Intel declined to comment on the reports.

The demand for ever-more-sophisticated computer security services has risen as public- and private-sector organisations face more complex and dangerous threats, including ransomware attacks.

Several large deals involving private equity firms have recently taken place in the computer security sector, and the FT suggested a group of PE firms might join together to buy Intel Security if it were sold for a price similar to or higher than that Intel paid for it.

Intel has been restructuring its chipmaking business, which is highly dependent upon the stagnant PC market, around selling chips for cloud computing, after failing to break into the smartphone market. PC sales make up 60 percent of Intel’s sales and 40 percent of its profits.

‘Unconvincing’ plan

Intel’s bet on chip-based security never seemed like more than a shot in the dark to some industry observers, according to security analyst Graham Cluley.

“Let’s be honest – that never seemed a terribly convincing plan, and came to nothing,” he said in an advisory.

He noted that Intel had made a previous foray into the computer security field that ended in 1998 when it sold Intel LanDesk Virus Protect to Symantec.

“Leave it another 12 years, and who knows if Intel will be tempted to buy into the computer security business again?” he wrote. “I guess if they do they’ll be hoping it’s a case of third time lucky.”

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