Security software company Symantec has offloaded its digital certificate operations to rival provider DigiCert in a cash and stock deal involving a payment of $950m and a 30 per cent stake in the Digicert business.
The transaction comes after Symantec was put under increasing pressure for wrongly issuing a series of digital certificates for the second time in two years.
Google and other browser makers have started coming down hard on digital certificate issuing organisations that fail to maintain the standards expected of them.
Last month, Google announced plans to ‘withdraw trust' in two Chinese digital certificate authorities in the forthcoming Chrome 61 web browser, due out in a month, as punishment for failing to maintain the standards expected of certificate authorities.
The two companies had been accused of "knowingly and intentionally mis-issued certificates in order to circumvent browser restrictions and certificate authority requirements", according to Google Chrome security manager Andrew Whalley - and Symantec's case was also due to be heard shortly.
‘Withdrawing trust' in a certificate authority would mean that browsers to websites using those certificates would be greeted with warnings, encouraging people to browse elsewhere and organisations to purchase digital certificates from other companies.
In a statement on the sale weighed down heavily with buzzwords and euphemisms, Symantec CEO Greg Clark said: "Transitioning our website security and related PKI [public-key infrastructure] solutions to DigiCert allows us to sharpen our enterprise focus on delivering unparalleled protection for the cloud generation through Symantec's Integrated Cyber Defense Platform.
"As our recently announced deals with Fireglass and Skycure demonstrate, we are accelerating the pace of innovation we bring to market through a combination of acquisitions as well as development from the ground up," said Clark.
He also neatly side-stepped the core reason why Symantec has sold off the business: "We carefully examined our options to ensure our customers would have a world-class experience with a company that offers a modern website PKI platform and is poised to lead the next generation of website security innovation."
He added (more or less) that he was "thrilled" that the users would now be customers of DigiCert, which is owned by technology focused private equity outfit Thoma Bravo.
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