HP's Fortify buy puts spotlight on obscure -- but important -- niche

Analysts say moves by tech leaders HP and IBM should boost flagging demand for application security tools

Hewlett-Packard's move this week to buy Fortify software focuses attention on the increasingly important, but still mostly underutilized category of application security products, security experts say.

Privately-held Fortify will provide HP with a set of technologies for on-premise testing of applications through all stages of the development process through deployment.

The planned acquisition complements HP's 2007 purchase SPI Dynamics, a vendor of Web application security products. Fortify will also give HP the means to match IBM's range of static and dynamic analysis tools that help companies test applications during the coding and testing stages, as well as the deployment phase.

The Fortify acquisition is the latest move in efforts by IBM and HP to build competitive application security portfolios mostly via acquisition. HP's purchase of SPI Dynamics for instance, followed IBM's acquisition Web application security vendor Waterfire. And HP's purchase of Fortify follows last year's IBM acquisition of Fortify competor Ounce Labs.

The acquisitions by the two technology giants are lending credibility to an important market segment, said Joshua Corman an analyst with The 451 Group and co-founder of RuggedSoftware.org, a group trying to raise awareness about secure coding practices.

Despite increased hacker attacks at the application level, companies continue to pour most of their security dollars into projects to secure network defenses, Corman said. Of the estimated $50 billion that companies spent on security products and services last year, barely $500 million was spent to shore up application security, he noted.

Corman theorized that IT executives comtinue to lack awareness of a growing need to better secure applications. "Software has become infrastructure, just like cement and steel. But unlike concrete and steel, it's not nearly as reliable," Corman said. "We have just never had a culture that software needs to be not just fast, but also secure."

Another reason for the slow adoption of application security products has been confusion about how best to use them. Some vendors maintain that the tools should be used to scan every line of code to identify vulnerabilities throughout application development projects. Others argue that the tools are best used to identify and fix problems on executable code.

Corman said that having tools available from both HP and IBM should lead to more enterprise investments in such technologies. "Very few companies will adopt technologies from small vendors in a nascent market," he said.

"What (IBM and HP) are saying is, there is a time and place for every technique," said Pete Lindstrom, an analyst with Spire Security. The moves show that "there is good value in both interactive and static tools for various reasons," he added.

The investments by HP and IBM in application security products and highlight the importance that these vendors are attaching to this space, said Dave Peterson, chief marketing officer at Coverity, a maker of security tools. "We look at it as a validation that software integrity has a home in the software development lifecycle," he said.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags securityIBMHewlett-PackardThe 451 GroupOunce Labs

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jaikumar Vijayan

Computerworld (US)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?