McAfee Spins Out from Intel as a New Independent Company With Refreshed Logo
McAfee, one of the best known and persistent brands in cybersecurity, has re-emerged from Intel as an independent company. It was acquired by Intel for $7.68 billion in 2010. In 2014, Intel announced the McAfee brand would be phased out and replaced by Intel Security, although retaining the red shield logo. In September 2016, Christopher Young, SVP and GM of the Intel Security Group, announced that McAfee would again be an independent company — 49% owned by Intel and 51% owned by TPG. This transaction values the company at $4.2 billion.
The spin out is now complete, and McAfee is again an independent company. In this incarnation, the name is retained, but the original red shield logo is replaced by a stylized red shield and includes the epithet ‘Together is power.’ Chris Young is the CEO.
The McAfee brand has proved remarkably resilient over the years. It was one of the earliest security brands, and has survived the disdain of its original developer, the somewhat maverick John McAfee. But it has greater challenges ahead. To really succeed, Chris Young will need to transform an image associated with early, signature-based, legacy anti-virus into something more contemporary.
The original anti-virus companies — almost all now more than just AV — were caught napping by the second-generation AV companies, who marketed themselves as machine-learning (ML) endpoint protection firms. The general perception is that machine-learning and artificial intelligence is the way forward, evidenced by another legacy firm, Sophos, buying ML firm Invincea. Young will need to transform public perception of an old brand into something more dynamic and forward thinking.
McAfee’s plan is to achieve this by evolution rather than revolution. There are no major new security initiatives announced today, although a raft of new products were announced at the end of 2016. “We will continue to be very focused on our customers. The strategy outlined at our annual security conference, FOCUS 16, will be the same. We are focused on end-to-end solutions and pivoting to the cloud,” says the company.
McAfee’s vision is to accelerate its existing strategy to drive cybersecurity towards true automation, not just for itself but across the whole industry. Its belief is that it can better focus on this strategy as an independent company.
“Security is the fastest-growing, but also the most fragmented and least profitable of all parts of IT,” corporate VP of global products at Intel Security, Brian Dye, told SecurityWeek. “That tells us we’re doing something fundamentally wrong.” He believes that automation is the solution to weak security, fragmentation, and profitability. “We want to drive a level of automation across the industry and bring that level of automation into our own portfolio — being standalone lets us focus on that mission wholeheartedly.”
He describes McAfee’s path as an evolution from integration, “which is what we’ve done historically with ePolicy Orchestrator’s single management pane of glass for the SOC;” to automation, “which is what we are doing with the Data Exchange Layer (DXL);” and ultimately on towards full orchestration, “which will bring together and automate more and more complex and sophisticated workflows.”
Key to this evolution is the big data threat intelligence derived from the telemetry of millions of customers on endpoints and corporate servers across the globe driving automation, through machine learning and artificial intelligence, across the DXL fabric. The aim is to move towards full closed loop zero human touch automation wherever possible; and improved human/machine teaming elsewhere.
DXL allows the sharing of actionable threat intelligence not just across the McAfee portfolio, but also between the products of partners in the McAfee Security Innovation Alliance. Dye believes that increasing and improving machine learning will allow full automation across the whole SOC; and that DXL will provide the backbone of that automation.
But he sees this as not merely a vision but a necessity for the future. “The only way we will be able to adapt to the changes that are happening, from the cloud to edge computing and the IoT, is if we automate the security tasks across the industry,” he told SecurityWeek. “We have to do that to free up the people and bandwidth to allow the implementation of these changes and new technologies. When new technologies arrive, you simply plug them into the DXL fabric. Change becomes an accelerator not an inhibitor; and it is our belief is that this is required for industry to be successful.”
Through DXL and threat intelligence, he said, “we can drive the rebirth of one of cybersecurity’s best known brands.”