McAfee spins out of Intel to become an independent cybersecurity company

McAfee spins out of Intel
McAfee spins out of Intel

In an age where more devices are connected to the Internet, and to each other, users need a lot more help from cybersecurity providers to tackle evolving digital threats, a senior executive at McAfee told CNBC on Wednesday.

The security software company, founded by American computer programmer John McAfee, has been around for three decades but was acquired by Intel between 2010 and 2011. This week, it became a new, jointly-owned independent cybersecurity company, with alternative asset management firm TPG owning a 51 percent stake and Intel retaining 49 percent. The deal was announced last September, and valued the business at approximately $4.2 billion.

"We spin out today to become a standalone — one of the largest standalone security companies globally, so we're very excited," Gavin Struthers, global SVP and Asia Pacific president at McAfee, told CNBC's "The Rundown" on Wednesday.

Asia Pacific — which is split between mature markets like Singapore and Australia and emerging Asia, where security levels are not as comprehensive — is a "hyper-growth" market for McAfee, according to Struthers.

He also reckoned no one is safe from hackers — from families at home trying to raise their children in a hyper-connected world to small and medium businesses, large corporations and even governments. "The bad actors are more sophisticated and they're coming after not just for profit, but sometimes for principle," he said.

That is where Struthers said McAfee can help with its numerous security technologies.

"McAfee has always been a broad portfolio company and that ability to connect multiple technologies together — we call it a platform — is something the rest of the market is not doing," he said. Struthers added access to a comprehensive global threat intelligence network and automation of technologies to detect and tackle breaches was what set McAfee apart from the competition.

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But, he acknowledged keeping up with hackers and their increasingly complex means of attacks can be a challenge. "It's an asymmetrical balance — (hackers) have to get it right only once, we have to get it right every time," he said.

McAfee provides a range of antivirus software to individual users to help protect their home, offices and connected devices. McAfee also offers advanced threat analysis, data protection, encryption and network intrusion prevention for enterprises.

Cybersecurity threats have grown in frequency and complexity in recent years. Hackers have targeted government institutions and companies, and have made away with databases containing personal information.

Awareness, according to Struthers, is also important in defending against digital threats, as is industry-wide collaboration in intelligence gathering.