Internet Security Systems (ISS) moved to bolster its content security capabilities Wednesday, announcing that it purchased content security company Cobion for €26 million (US$33.4 million).

The acquisition will add Cobion's content analysis technology to ISS's Proventia product line, helping the company compete in a growing market for "all-in-one" security appliances that combine anti-virus, firewall, anti-spam as well as Web and e-mail inspection features on one hardware device.

Cobion, of Kassel, Germany, makes the OrangeBox family of content filtering products. Its products include a Web filtering tool that can block Internet users' access to undesirable Web pages, e-mail and spam filters that block incoming messages and a filter that monitors intranet traffic.

ISS plans to add Cobion's Web content, inbound e-mail filtering and anti-spam software to its Proventia M product by the second quarter of 2004. The Cobion software will be available as two additional "blades" in the Proventia M, according to Pete Privateer, senior vice president of worldwide marketing at ISS.

Also in the second quarter, ISS will release a new rack-mounted hardware appliance dedicated to content security, the Proventia C, Privateer said.

The Proventia C also will do Web, e-mail and anti-spam filtering and offer some additional capabilities not found in the Proventia M, such as the ability to filter both inbound and outbound e-mail, he said.

ISS was drawn to small Cobion after an "exhaustive search" because of the size of its database of spam and Web URLs (uniform resource locators), which is used to spot and block undesirable content, Privateer said.

Cobion's database was larger than similar databases owned by higher-profile content security companies like Surfcontrol and Websense.

ISS was also impressed by Cobion's automated process for scanning the Web, analysing content and categorising Web sites, he said. Other companies rely on human beings to review Web site content for inclusion in their blocking database, which was unattractive to ISS.

"We don't think having housewives and college students searching on the Web is the best way to keep a content database updated," Privateer said.

ISS will maintain Cobion's facility in Kassel and retain its engineering staff, who make up most of the company's 72 employees, Privateer said.