Symantec buys VeriSign SSL unit for $1.3bn

Symantec has agreed to acquire VeriSign's market-leading SSL certificate business for $1.28 billion, with a plan to make the technology more mainstream.

The deal, which does not need shareholder approval, will see Symantec get its hands on a business that already produces $400 million in revenue annually.

The company, [in]famous for its Norton brand of desktop security software, reckons it can grow the SSL business, and VeriSign's VIP user authentication system, by bundling and cross-selling certs with its business and consumer software.

"Symantec can expand the VIP ecosystem by incorporating user certificates into its Norton-branded consumer products providing a channel through which consumers can easily create secure identities that can be authenticated when they do business online," Symantec said.

The VeriSign trust check-mark that many web site incorporate into their pages to show they are encrypted will be replaced by a Symantec mark that includes VeriSign's logo.

For VeriSign, the deal means it is now focussed almost entirely on domain names. Its two big cash cows are now the .com and .net domain registries, and it seems likely the company will eventually need to pursue other top-level domains deals in order to grow.

Selling SSL certificates was VeriSign's original raison d'etre, the reason it was spun out of RSA Security in 1995, when the Netscape browser was becoming popular and people had only just started doing business on the web.