Arsgera - Fotolia

Cylance acquisition shifts BlackBerry towards security

BlackBerry made its strongest move yet toward enterprise security with a $1.4 billion acquisition of cybersecurity startup Cylance, which specializes in AI-powered threat protection.

BlackBerry Ltd. announced Friday it has agreed to acquire Cylance for $1.4 billion in cash, accelerating the former mobile device manufacturer's move toward enterprise security.

The Cylance acquisition represents a major shift for BlackBerry, which at one time dominated the mobile device market with its enterprise-focused smartphones and mobile operating system. Amid increasing competition from Apple and Google, the company discontinued its BlackBerry OS for mobile devices in 2013 and last year exited the device market as well; in recent years, BlackBerry has turned its attention to enterprise mobility management software and other security products.

BusinessInsider first reported a Cylance acquisition was in the works for BlackBerry last week. Cylance, founded in 2015, specializes in artificial intelligence-based threat detection and prevention and is one of several security startups that have embraced AI and machine learning technology over traditional signature-based malware detection. 

In June, Cylance announced it had closed $120 million in series E venture capital funding and declared annual revenues for 2018 of more than $130 million; the cybersecurity vendor had previously scored $100 million in series D funding in 2016. According to BusinessInsider's report, Cylance was exploring a possible IPO.

The two companies plan for Cylance's technology, which includes the CylanceProtect threat detection and prevention product, to be integrated into the BlackBerry Spark platform. Spark provides secure communications across different enterprise systems and devices -- what BlackBerry describes as the "Enterprise of Things."

"Cylance's leadership in artificial intelligence and cybersecurity will immediately complement our entire portfolio, [Unified Endpoint Management] and QNX [OS] in particular. We are very excited to onboard their team and leverage our newly combined expertise," John Chen, executive chairman and CEO of BlackBerry, said in a statement. "We believe adding Cylance's capabilities to our trusted advantages in privacy, secure mobility and embedded systems will make BlackBerry Spark indispensable to realizing the Enterprise of Things."

The Cylance acquisition is expected to close before the end of BlackBerry's current fiscal year in February. BlackBerry said Cylance will operate as a separate business unit within the company.

Dig Deeper on Threats and vulnerabilities

Enterprise Desktop
Cloud Computing