August 3, 2017

Symantec sells its web security and certificate business for USD 950 million

DigiCert has entered into an agreement to buy Symantec’s troubled secondary business unit.

American security software provider Symantec has today announced the sale of its website security and digital certificate business to SSL certificate authority DigiCert for an upfront cash payment of USD 950 million. Under the terms of the deal, Symantec will also be handed a 30% stake in DigiCert once the transaction has been finalized.

The sale will see Symantec distance itself from a business unit that has been plagued with uncertainty for some time now. Throughout this year, the company has clashed with Google and Mozilla over the recognition of its web security certificates, with both web browsing providers to initiate a process of distrust in Symantec’s TLS certificates.

Symantec’s dispute with Google, in particular, has escalated sharply in recent months. Google had accused Symantec earlier this year of a series of failures to properly validate certificates, which caused significant risk for Google Chrome users. Last week, Google released a proposal which would see its Google Chrome 66 web browser disable trust from Symantec certificates that were issued before June 1, 2016. As for next year, when Google Chrome 70 is expected to roll out, it has also threatened that the browser will wholly distrust any certificate issued by Symantec.

According to Symantec, the sale will enable it to refocus and optimize its enterprise software solutions. While making the announcement, CEO of Symantec, Greg Clark, envisioned a mutually beneficial arrangement for all involved by stating:

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. I’m thrilled that our customers will benefit from a seamless transition to DigiCert, a company that is solely focused on delivering leading identity and encryption solutions.

A brief statement released by DigiCert on its acquisition read as follows:

Symantec customers would now be able to move to a new platform that meets all industry standards and browser requirements and provides the foundation for future innovation in the certificate authority space for the benefit of customers.

The sale was announced at the same time Symantec published its first quarter financial report for 2017, which saw the company grow 33% year-on-year.

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