CloudFlare Acquires VPN and Security Provider CryptoSeal

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To further its services around making online content faster and safer, CloudFlare has acquired virtual private network and security software provider CryptoSeal.

According to a Wednesday blog post from CloudFlare co-founder and CEO Matthew Prince, the acquisition was finalized last week, and the process of shutting down CryptoSeal’s service has already begun. Current customers have been told to expect the service to be retired completely by June 30, 2014. CryptoSeal’s technology is expected to feature into new CloudFlare product extensions in the coming months and strengthen its security.

As part of its content delivery service, CloudFlare essentially protects customer servers by providing them a reverse proxy. Rather than connect directly, users connect to CloudFlare servers, which then request the content from the host server on behalf of the user.

“CryptoSeal’s service was, effectively, CloudFlare in reverse,” wrote Prince. “Rather than acting as a reverse proxy, the CryptoSeal VPN functions as a forward proxy. Where CloudFlare’s customers are websites, CryptoSeal’s are web surfers. By joining forces, we believe there are exciting opportunities to help build a better Internet end-to-end.”

Prince also wrote that CryptoSeal’s “Trusted Computing” technology can help protect commodity servers from attacks both from outside or within networks, and help guarantee the integrity of server-side applications to remote end users.

CryptoSeal was funded by Y Combinator and angel investors from the security community. In the blog post, Prince mentions that CloudFlare had “admired for some time” CryptoSeal founder and security expert Ryan Lackey, who will join CloudFlare as a product manager focused on new security products.

In October 2013, CryptoSeal shutdown its consumer-oriented “Privacy VPN” service (but not its business VPN service) because it couldn’t guarantee that US courts could secretly obtain cryptographic keys to decrypt customer communications. A similar rationale led to the closure of secure email services Lavabit and Silent Mail

Meanwhile, CloudFlare has been rapidly growing, spurred by investment and consumer demand, having surpassed 1.5 million customers, and reported a 450 percent increase in revenue over the previous year.

This strong customer and revenue growth has encouraged CloudFlare to grow internally as well as pursue strategic acquisitions. In February, for instance, it acquired anti-malware firm StopTheHacker, a service that helps disinfect new CloudFlare customers so that its network remains free of malware.

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