San Francisco — In a fresh attempt to beef up its security, the iPad and iPhone maker Apple has agreed to acquire mobile and network security company AuthenTec, which develops fingerprint sensors and identity management software for mobile devices, in a deal valued at about $356 million, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
The Cupertino, Calif., company has coughed up around $8-a-share offer for AuthenTec that represents a 58 percent premium over its Thursday closing price of $5.07. The acquisition will run Apple a reported $356 million.
AuthenTec is a prominent supplier of smart sensors, identity management software and hardware, and embedded security devices such as fingerprint readers. AuthenTec’s products include Smart Sensors, TouchChips, identity management and embedded security.
Among other things, “AuthenTec encryption technology, fingerprint sensors and identity management software are deployed by the leading mobile device, networking and computing companies, content and service providers, and governments worldwide,” the company says in its About section. “AuthenTec’s products and technologies provide security on hundreds of millions of devices, and the Company has shipped more than 100 million fingerprint sensors for integration in a wide range of portable electronics including over 15 million mobile phones.”
Image source: AuthenTec.
In addition, these fingerprint swipe sensors employ a patented sub-surface technology to read the live layer of skin beneath the skin’s surface where the fingerprint is first formed, making them much harder to fool than traditional fingerprint sensors.
As reports of malware, viruses and threats are on the rise, Apple is just the latest company to get swept up in the increasing interest in mobile security. This acquisition, along with earlier patents, also lends credibility to the rumors that Apple is planning to add NFC support to the iPhone 5. iOS 6 features a new app called Passbook which allows you to store your boarding passes, movie tickets, retail coupons, loyalty cards, and more all in one place. Passbook allows you to ditch the physical cards and tickets and instead scan your iPhone or iPod touch to check in for a flight, get into a movie, and redeem a coupon.
AuthenTec currently counts a number of Apple competitors as customers, including Samsung Electronics, LG, Cisco Systems, and Motorola. Earlier this month, Samsung tapped AuthenTec’s virtual private network security to power its Galaxy S III Android-powered smartphone and tablets.