Intel Security is McAfee again

If you were on the internet in a certain era, you remember McAfee. It was the defensive line between you and the rest of the internet, reminding you with incessant popups that you were not hacked, not quite yet, but only if you renewed your subscription right away. Then Intel bought the firewall company in 2010 for an eye-popping $7.68 billion and billed it as Intel Security, and the name McAfee became more closely associated with the company’s founder, a man who retired to Belize only to be accused of his neighbours murder.

(Johnny Depp will reportedly play John McAfee in an upcoming film.) But things didn’t work out with Intel (or Belize, for that matter) and so the unit formerly known as Intel Security will be McAfee once again. Today, Intel is officially inking a deal that will spin McAfee out, with the asset management firm TPG taking a 51 percent stake in the company at a $4.2 billion valuation. Intel will retain a 49 percent stake.

It seems that Intel and McAfee are going through a very mutual breakup. Both parties wish each other the best (Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said in a statement, “We offer Chris Young and the McAfee team our full support as they establish themselves as one of the largest pure-play cybersecurity companies in the industry”) and setting a cybersecurity company like McAfee free from Intel’s hardware ambitions seems mutually beneficial.

“With so many different elements of the threat landscape, a cybersecurity company needs to develop technology from a different place than a semiconductor company,” McAfee chief technology officer Steve Grobman told TechCrunch. “If you think a lot about the technology we would have defended organisations with six years ago — perimeter defences, signature-based AV [anti-virus] — we had a rate and pace of new threats that was largely manageable, whereas in 2017, the threat landscape is changing very, very quickly.”