In an unusual move, security software company ArcSight has reportedly put itself up for sale with a $1.5 billion (£966 million) price tag believed possible.

If correct – the report comes via the Wall Street Journal – the price would be a premium above the company’s current share price of $36, or less than a billion dollars market cap.

To put this into perspective, as recently as 25 August the company’s share price was trading at around $28, so it has already surged on the back of the story.

The intrusion detection and Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) company raised $50 million during its IPO in February 2008 when the share price was set at $9.

The Wall Street Journal names HP, EMC, Oracle and CA as possible bidders, although that is pure speculation. There are only a handful of companies that could come close to meeting the price tag.

Security companies are suddenly popular buys, possibly because they appear relatively cheap to larger companies gripped by the belief that security is one set of technologies that enterprise vendors can no longer afford to be without.

The tactic of ‘asking’ for bids looks unusual, possibly a sign that ArcSight believes it can get better offers with a little publicity. In fact, many companies tout themselves as open to bids before being sold.