RSA Will Gain Innovation in Web Fraud Prevention From Silver Tail Buy



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Buying Silver Tail will give RSA a boost, but the firm must protect Silver Tail's innovative spirit. Silver Tail should benefit from RSA's global brand and sales force, and Silver Tail customers may see lower pricing options.

News Analysis


On 30 October 2012, EMC announced that it has signed an agreement to acquire Silver Tail Systems, a provider of Web fraud detection and security software. EMC will keep Silver Tail's existing team and run it as a new business unit within its RSA security division, increasing investment.


This acquisition will give RSA a much-needed boost of innovation and will strengthen its already broad portfolio of fraud prevention technologies. RSA is dominant in online fraud prevention worldwide and earns approximately 20 to 25 times more revenue in this market than Silver Tail. But many Gartner clients that use RSA Adaptive Authentication for fraud prevention have gone elsewhere in the past couple of years to fill gaps in RSA's coverage (while holding on to RSA Adaptive Authentication), most notably to ward off attacks against Web applications from banking trojans and other "zero day" threats. Silver Tail should help RSA fill some of those gaps.

Silver Tail brought to the market a new way of preventing fraud, based on intelligent analysis of Web session traffic to identify anomalous behavior. This required less work from customers than did many competitors, including RSA. Silver Tail's innovative approach ensured that the startup had no trouble attracting investors and venture capital funding, which it needed to build its product and team to support enterprise-class applications. It was still "growing up" when it surprised us by selling to RSA. The combination could, however, be a good one if Silver Tail benefits from RSA's global brand and sales force, and if RSA can protect and nurture Silver Tail's innovative spirit.

It is unclear whether or how Silver Tail technology will be integrated with RSA's Adaptive Authentication, but the two solutions are complementary and could live comfortably together. And RSA's NetWitness technology could benefit if Silver Tail data modeling and network visualization techniques were layered on top.


Silver Tail customers:

  • Continue with plans to acquire or implement Silver Tail technology, but ensure that the firm's responsive customer service continues by insisting on consistent project management covered by service-level agreements.

  • Demand that Silver Tail offer subscription pricing based on covered users or transactions as an alternative to its current (and costly) license fee agreements, which would bring its pricing in line with RSA's.

RSA customers:

  • Assess the use of Silver Tail technology as a good complement to RSA Adaptive Authentication.

  • Evaluate navigation-centric fraud prevention technology from other vendors, such as Digital Resolve, as an alternative to Silver Tail.

  • Ask RSA to integrate Silver Tail alerts into its alert management console, so that RSA Adaptive Authentication and Silver Tail application alerts can be correlated and managed together.

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