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Big US defence contractor buys two Australian infosec firms

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US-based defence contractor L3 Intelligence has acquired two Australian information security firms, Azimuth Security and Linchpin Labs, for a total sum of $313 million.

The acquisition was finalised on 31 August, according to a statement from L3 Intelligence which is among the top 10 US defence contractors.

Azimuth is a company founded by security whiz Mark Dowd. It was in the news in February when a report appeared on the American website Motherboard citing its crucial role in helping spies and law enforcement to break into smartphones and also supplying them with zero-day exploits.

Dowd is a former member of IBM's ISS X-Force and was the principal security architect for McAfee. He has found vulnerabilities in software across the spectrum: Sendmail, Microsoft Exchange, OpenSSH, Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Adobe Flash, Checkpoint VPN, and Microsoft's SSL implementation, and is the co-author of The Art of Software Security Assessment.

Azimuth's partner company, Linchpin Labs, which has offices in Sydney, Ottawa, London and Delaware, describes itself as a firm with "particular expertise" in "cross-platform and low-level systems development as well as IT security services".

Dowd's company is said to have had dealings with the FBI, with one source in the February report saying that the company had provided an exploit that could be used to break through Tor, the browser that is used for navigating the dark Web.

Ex-spies Daniel Brooks, Matthew Holland, and Morgan Prior have led various branches of Linchpin. Online contracts show that Linchpin has provided training to the Australian Federal Police and the Department of Defence.

In a statement, L3 Technologies said: "The acquired companies will operate under L3’s ISR ( Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance) Systems business segment as L3 Trenchant.

"The closing of the acquisition significantly strengthens L3’s existing C6ISR (Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Cyber-Defence and Combat Systems, and Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) capabilities.

"L3 Technologies is an agile innovator and leading provider of global ISR, communications and electronic systems for military, homeland security and commercial aviation customers.

"With headquarters in New York City and approximately 31,000 employees worldwide, L3 develops advanced defence technologies and commercial solutions in pilot training, aviation security, night vision and EO/IR, weapons, maritime systems and space. The company reported 2017 sales of US$9.6 billion."

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