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Jamf to acquire ZecOps to bolster iOS security

Jamf will pay an undisclosed sum for ZecOps, which logs activity on iOS devices to find potential attacks. The companies expect the deal to close by 2023.

Apple-focused endpoint management provider Jamf plans to acquire mobile security company ZecOps to help businesses detect threats to iOS devices.

Jamf did not disclose how much it will pay for ZecOps, whose software logs activity on mobile devices to find signs of attacks. The companies unveiled the deal this week and said it would close by the end of the year.

The acquisition will help Jamf's enterprise customers discover iOS device threats more quickly, Jamf CEO Dean Hager said in an email. Jamf already offers threat protection on Macs through its Protect product.

Dean Hager, CEO, JamfDean Hager

"ZecOps enables advanced threat hunting by capturing and analyzing logs from iOS ... devices at the deepest layer, the operating system," Hager said.

ZecOps CEO Zuk Avraham, who co-founded the San Francisco-based company in 2017, said the deal would advance its mission of finding hard-to-detect attacks.

"By combining with Jamf, we can offer our customers truly powerful mobile threat intelligence and threat-hunting capabilities that will keep up with the evolving threat landscape without compromising user experience," he said in a statement.

In the enterprise, iOS devices are popular. A 2020 IDC survey found that iPhones account for 49% of the smartphones used by U.S. businesses, and iPads are the most used tablet. The popularity of using iPhones for work has made the devices a target for attackers. Mobile workers face threats from numerous avenues, including email, SMS messages and QR codes.

"What I do see is an increased prevalence of cyber attacks on mobile," Forrester Research analyst Andrew Hewitt said. "I see [Jamf's] move in bolstering the iOS security side of things as a way to counter that increased threat."

ZecOps, which counts the BBC and Bloomberg among its clients, has been active in discovering security problems in iOS. In 2020, the company found zero-day vulnerabilities in Apple Mail that allowed attackers to execute code remotely. ZecOps worked with Apple to fix the problem.

After the acquisition closes, the entire ZecOps team will join Jamf. Avraham will play a key role in Jamf's future security strategy, a company representative said.

The last time Jamf bolstered its security offering was in 2019 with the acquisition of Digita Security, which provided macOS malware protection. Last year, Jamf spent $400 million to pick up Wandera, a zero-trust security provider.

In other Jamf news, the company last week launched tools to assist IT in managing Mac instances on the AWS cloud. The technology will make enrolling and controlling instances in Jamf management software easier.

Managing AWS Macs in Jamf before required the cumbersome process of manually adding the virtual machines and policies, said Josh Jagdfeld, Jamf's senior director of developer relations.

"It was, generally, a lot of clicks for IT," he said. "It's one of those things where you do it once and, if you have to do it again, you're wondering how much time you could be saving."

The new process uses a script to enroll a device automatically and configure its policies. The script is currently available for AWS and Jamf customers.

AWS launched its Mac service in 2020, saying it would help developers create and test applications for Apple devices. With the service, developers can run Intel or M1-based Macs on the AWS Elastic Compute Cloud.

Mike Gleason is a reporter covering unified communications and collaboration tools. He previously covered communities in the MetroWest region of Massachusetts for the Milford Daily News, Walpole Times, Sharon Advocate and Medfield Press. He has also worked for newspapers in central Massachusetts and southwestern Vermont and served as a local editor for Patch. He can be found on Twitter at @MGleason_TT.

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