Authentication company Vasco has snapped up a little-known Unified Threat Management (UTM) vendor, in a deal that will eventually see its technology integrated with mainstream security hardware for the first time.

Belgian company Able N.V. is costing Vasco a reported $6.3 million in cash, which the company is bound to reckon as a low-cost route into the UTM hardware market.

Founded as long ago as 1996 by engineer Alex Ongena, Able’s customer base is tiny – it had revenues of a mere $1.5 million in 2005 – but Vasco will have been attracted by its well-developed AXsGuard line of products, and the fact that it is profitable.

AxsGuard provides a range of security in one box, including VPN, anti-virus, firwalling, intrusion detection, and content scanning. Able has also, for some time, supported Vasco’s VACMAN Controller, an authentication system aimed at the business and banking sectors.

“With Able, we are putting our authentication products in a broader perspective,” said said Jan Valcke, VASCO's COO. "We believe that the UTM market will grow significantly in the coming years and we believe that Able's product line will enable VASCO to win a substantial part of the SME market," added Ken Hunt, VASCO's Founder and CEO.

A Vasco spokesman confirmed that the company’s strategy was to focus on all areas of banking, including SMEs, to expand uptake of authentication through mainstream security systems and, to some extent, simply to diversify for its own sake. The ability to do all this while managing appliances remotely had been a big attraction in buying Able, he said.