Symantec Buys LifeLock In $2.3B Marriage Of Online Security, Privacy Services

With cybercriminals increasingly using malware and phishing attacks to steal sensitive personal information, it’s perhaps not surprising that a company that makes online security software would want to acquire a business that offers identity theft protection services — even one that has been heavily penalized for not living up to its promises. 

Symantec announced Sunday that it has agreed to buy LifeLock for $2.3 billion, a deal that Symantec says will allow it to step up its protection services and address expanding needs in the consumer cybercrime realm by combining LifeLock’s identity protection services with its own Norton antivirus business.

“As we all know, consumer cybercrime has reached crisis levels. LifeLock is a leading provider of identity and fraud protection services, with over 4.4 million highly-satisfied members and growing. With the combination of Norton and LifeLock, we will be able to deliver comprehensive cyber defense for consumers,” Greg Clark, Symantec’s CEO, said in a statement.

The companies expect the deal will create the world’s largest consumer security business with over $2.3 billion in annual revenue based on last fiscal year revenues for both companies.

While LifeLock might be one of the better known ID-protection services, the company has been repeatedly penalized by the federal government for not living up to the promises it has made in its marketing.

In 2010, the company settled with the Federal Trade Commission for $11 million over ads that promised complete protection against ID theft but which the FTC said “left enough holes that you could drive a truck through it.”

Last year, LifeLock agreed to pay another $100 million to the FTC after the commission found that the company had continued to mislead consumers about the services it provides.

The company’s former CEO (now executive vice chairman) once attempted to very publicly demonstrate the security of LifeLock by sharing his Social Security number with the world, only to end up having his identity stolen more than a dozen times.

[via The Wall Street Journal]