3Com has become the latest company to scoop up technology for preventing attacks on computer networks, with the acquisition [pdf] of TippingPoint Technologies for $430 million in cash (£223m).

The deal will add TippingPoint's UnityOne line of network-based IPS (intrusion prevention system) hardware and software to 3Com's stable of enterprise security products, and will give 3Com a leg up in the growing market for technology to serve converged networks of voice and data.

3Com will pay $47 in cash for each outstanding share of TippingPoint stock, adding it as a new division within 3Com. Kip McClanahan, TippingPoint's CEO, will be the division president.

Companies use TippingPoint's technology to protect their networks from a variety of threats, including DoS attacks, and infections from worms and viruses. TippingPoint's UnityOne IPS appliances use a custom chip to inspect network traffic at high speeds, spotting attacks aimed at software applications, as well as routers, switches, DNS servers and other critical network infrastructure. The UnityOne Security Management System allows companies to centrally manage and control IPS appliances across the network, according to TippingPoint.

The UnityOne technology will strengthen 3Com's enterprise product portfolio, giving the company a foothold in the intrusion detection and prevention hardware and software markets which, together, are expected to be worth $1.24 billion by 2008, according to IDC.

The purchase will also give the company technology for securing VoIP traffic, as well as traditional network traffic, on so-called converged networks, 3Com said.

3Com has taken steps in the last year to build its profile as a provider of network security technology. In November last year, it unveiled a partnership with Crossbeam to market and sell its security services switches to medium-size and large enterprises worldwide.

In January, it released the 3Com Security Switch 6200, a new switch that uses Crossbeam technology and provides firewall, anti-virus, content-filtering and intrusion detection features on a single device. In September, it added the Security Switch 7245 and 7280 to that line, targeting large enterprises and ISPs with features like VPNs, intrusion detection, virus scanning, anti-spam and secure remote access via SSL.

3Com is just the latest company to buy its way into the IDP market. In a megadeal announced in February, Juniper bought security vendor NetScreen for stock worth approximately $4 billion, adding NetScreen's network security products, including IDP appliances, to Juniper's portfolio.

In March, Cisco bought Riverhead Networks for $39 million in cash, picking up technology to protect networks from DDoS attacks.

Security software companies are getting into the IDP business, also. McAfee laid out $220 million in April 2003, for two Californian companies: IntruVert and Entercept. More recently, Symantec signed a deal this month to purchase Platform Logic, a maker of the AppFire host-based intrusion detection software for an undisclosed sum.