Surfcontrol has just bought Blackspider Technologies of the UK, for a reported £20 ($35 million) million plus debt. Bought companies are always described by journalists as having been “eaten” “gobbled” or snapped up”, but this is still an interesting act of consumption nonetheless.

The whole security-as-service market (“on-demand” in the current parlance) is supposed to be the new new thing, but that didn’t stop Blackspider from posting losses on a modest turnover. MessageLabs would be a good UK rival with which to compare it, albeit that is a lot bigger and going places.

Surfcontrol gets to hedge its bets a bit with a trendy services arm to stall worries about where the security products market might be going, Blackspider gets to weave a new and hopefully profitable web under the wing of a US name, and rivals wonder why they didn’t come up with the clever idea of buying a loss-making security services outfit for a tube of smarties.

It’s not clear whether the distinctive Blackspider logo will stay or go, but the image of a predator – and prey - is an appropriate one. But which is the one doing the eating here?