The strategic importance of security has been underlined by the news that UK engineering services specialist Babcock has bought security consultancy Context Information Security (ContextIS) for a total of £32 million ($52 million).

According to a statement issued by Babcock, the deal will see £28 million in cash handed over immediately with a further £4 million deferred for an undefined time period, presumably a mechanism to tie in key staff.   

Given that Babcock’s business is heavily tilted towards the public sector, the fact that ContextIS is already certified under the UK Government’s Cyber Incident Response scheme was one attraction; the market for security in the government supply chain is undergoing change under new policy initiatives and this is an important foot in that door.

“We have worked with ContextIS for some time and it is clear its specialist knowledge, intellect and experience will help us broaden our services in cyber infrastructure, where our customers have a paramount requirement for assurance and system availability,” said Babcock chief executive, Peter Rogers.

“The acquisition of ContextIS and its combination with our existing expertise in systems engineering creates a strong platform that will enhance the range of services we offer our clients and enable us to expand into new markets.”

ConextIS had attracted acquisition interest in recent times and is understood to have been looking for a buy-out deal for some time.

In October, ContextIS programmer James Forshaw hit the headlines after becoming the first researcher to win Microsoft’s top $100,000 (£66,000) bug bounty for finding a critical mitigation bypass flaw affecting Windows 8.

The firm has also built a reputation for finding prominent software vulnerabilities, including in 2012 an unusual flaw in WebGL that could allow attackers to target specific graphics cards.