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Cyber security deal highlights threats from spying

Mandiant, a U.S. cyber security company at the forefront of fighting a new wave of cyber attacks, has been bought for more than $1 billion, in a deal that highlights the growing concern about government-backed online spying from China and the U.S. National Security Agency.

In the largest U.S. cyber security deal in recent years, FireEye, a New York-listed cyber threat detection company, has acquired Mandiant, the security technology company that last year accused the Chinese military of hacking more than 100 U.S. companies.

(Read more: Cyberthreats on the rise, says McAfee Labs report)

David De Walt, chairman and chief executive of FireEye, said the revelations of the NSA mass surveillance program and Mandiant's report on Chinese hackers had "accelerated business opportunities" for the company.

Maciej Frolow | Photographer's Choice RF | Getty Images

"A lot of companies, organisations and governments said 'look how pervasive these superpowers are in monitoring and stealing from these companies'," he said. "There is an accelerating awareness that just wasn't there a year ago."

Mr DeWalt, who was chief executive of McAfee and sold the antivirus software maker to Intel in 2010, said FireEye and Mandiant were the forefront of a new generation of cyber security protection that would replace the older antivirus model.

(Read more: With new malware, you have to pay to get your files back)

FireEye could respond in "seconds or minutes" to the advanced threat posed by, for example, a "particularly nasty nation state attacker," and then pass the issue – malware, for example – to Mandiant to "fix in real time", he said.

The deal, for more than $900 million in FireEye stock at Thursday's price and $106.5 million cash, is the largest cyber security deal for at least three years, according to Dealogic, the acquisitions research firm. The number of cyber security deals in the United States doubled in 2013, with 10 compared with five each year in 2012 and 2011.


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