As we reach the midway point of 2024, the technology industry remains on high alert against new cybersecurity challenges. The widespread adoption of AI and machine learning has presented new opportunities in addressing cyber risk.

However, according to GlobalData Thematic Intelligence, AI’s role in cybersecurity is somewhat of a double-edged sword.

The adaptive capabilities of technology can significantly enhance a cybersecurity suite’s defences and provide a proactive shield against evolving threats. On the other hand, the technology can also leverage a cyber attacker’s ability to create more sophisticated assaults.

The importance of striking a balance in AI’s use, ensuring responsible application without oversharing sensitive data, has become vital in securing data, according to GlobalData Thematic Intelligence.

GlobalData’s cybersecurity market report forecasts that the global market will be worth $290bn by 2027, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 13% between 2022 and 2027.

Managed security services, application security, and identity and access management will be high-growth areas, according to the company.

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As enterprises look to invest in tighter security and cybersecurity companies look to integrate new technologies, 2024 has already been a busy year for cybersecurity acquisitions.

These are the five biggest cybersecurity acquisitions of 2024, so far.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise to acquire Juniper Networks for $14.3bn 

On 9 January, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) announced it would buy Juniper Networks, a networking equipment maker and Wi-Fi security company, for $14bn. 

The acquisition is expected to double HPE’s networking business as the company hopes to tap into Juniper’s network security and AI-enabled enterprise networking operations. 

Together, HPE and Juniper will provide customers of all sizes with a complete, secure portfolio that enables the networking architecture necessary to manage and simplify their expanding and increasingly complex connectivity needs. 

Leveraging AI, the combined company is expected to create better user and operator experiences, benefitting customers’ high-performance networks and cloud data centres.

“HPE’s acquisition of Juniper represents an important inflection point in the industry and will change the dynamics in the networking market and provide customers and partners with a new alternative that meets their toughest demands,” said HPE President and CEO Antonio Neri. 

“This transaction will strengthen HPE’s position at the nexus of accelerating macro-AI trends, expand our total addressable market, and drive further innovation for customers as we help bridge the AI-native and cloud-native worlds, while also generating significant value for shareholders,” he added. 

IBM to acquire HashiCorp for $6.4bn 

On April 2024, IBM announced plans to acquire security lifecycle management company HashiCorp for $6.4bn. 

IBM will use HashiCorp’s catalogue to extend its automation and multi-cloud management product set, which is currently being delivered through its Red Hat subsidiary. 

The acquisition will also see IBM develop an extensive end-to-end hybrid cloud platform built for AI-powered complexity.

HashiCorp co-founder and chief technology officer, Armon Dadgar, said: “Our strategy at its core is about enabling companies to innovate in the cloud while providing a consistent approach to managing cloud at scale.

“The need for effective management and automation is critical with the rise of multi-cloud and hybrid cloud, which is being accelerated by today’s AI revolution.”

Luke Bidco/Thoma Bravo to acquire Darktrace for $5.3bn

On April 23, Luke Bidco, a company formed under private equity firm Thoma Bravo, announced it would acquire UK AI cybersecurity company Darktrace for $5.3bn. 

Darktrace is known for its ActiveAI security platform, which provides a full lifecycle approach to cyber resilience. It can autonomously spot and respond to known and unknown in-progress threats across an organisation’s ecosystem.

The Darktrace Group employs over 2,300 people globally and has over 9,400 customers globally.

The acquisition will provide Darktrace access to a strong financial partner in Thoma Bravo which has deep software sector expertise.

First Advantage to Acquire Sterling Check for $2.2bn

On 29 February, First Advantage Corporation, a provider of employment background screening, identity, and verification solutions, announced it had entered into a purchase agreement to acquire background screening company Sterling Check Corp.

First Advantage said it would issue a combination of cash and stock valuing Sterling at approximately $2.2bn, including Sterling’s outstanding debt.

First Advantage and Sterling offer complementary technology solutions and services that enable employers across healthcare, retail and e-commerce, transportation, manufacturing, financial services, and other industries to manage risk and hire the best talent.

According to the companies, customers will benefit from accelerated investment in innovation and access to a broader suite of products and solutions to meet their needs, fueling growth of the combined company.

The combined company will make use of greater diversification of revenue across customer segments, industries, and geographies.

“We are thrilled to announce the acquisition of Sterling, demonstrating our commitment to delivering high-quality, cost-effective employment background screening and identity verification solutions that enhance value for customers by helping them hire smarter and onboard faster, while also positioning First Advantage for long-term value creation,” said First Advantage CEO Scott Staples.

“This combination unlocks efficiencies and opportunities to fuel incremental growth and invest in new technology solutions, including AI-driven automation, while further diversifying our business for greater resilience,” Staples added.

Akamai Technologies to acquire Noname Security for $450m

On 7 May, cloud and cybersecurity company Akami Technologies confirmed its intention to acquire application programming interface (API) security company, Noname Security.

Noname, one of the top API security vendors in the market, will enhance Akamai’s existing API Security solution and accelerate its ability to meet growing customer demand and market requirements as the use of APIs continues to expand.

Akamai said it also expects to gain greater scale with Noname’s additional sales and marketing resources, and established channel and alliance relationships.

“Applications run our world, but as applications and users proliferate, so do security risks,” said Mani Sundaram, executive vice president and general manager, security technology group, Akamai Technologies.

“Akamai has seen a growing need for API protection, with our own data showing 109% year-over-year growth in API attacks,” he added. “With the addition of Noname, Akamai believes it will have the breadth of integrations and deployment choices needed to deliver comprehensive API protection for customers across all environments.”