Palo Alto Networks acquires stealthy start-up with NSA roots

Next-generation firewall maker Palo Alto Networks today announced its first acquisition, an intriguing buyout of a stealthy Mountain View start-up called Morta Security whose founders hail from the NSA. The price of the purchase was not disclosed.

Morta that has been in stealth mode since 2012  and describes its founders as "executives and engineers from the National Security Agency." CEO Raj Shahsays he worked in the Air Force Reserve supporting the NSA.  "We have deep experience in protecting our national infrastructure," he says.

Rene Bonvanie, chief marketing officer at Palo Alto Networks, says Morta has developed techniques for detecting and remediating malware, and Palo Alto intends to integrate the technology into its next-generation firewall platform either as a cloud service or directly on the Palo Alto firewall platform. Palo Alto's firewalls support sandboxing technologies to detect zero-day malware.

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Palo Alto declined to say much more about Morta, which hasn't yet introduced products publicly. Morta technologies "will show up in our product soon," according to Bonvanie.

According to its website, Morta has been funded by venture capital firms that include A16z seed, Greylock Partners and Norwest Ventures.Ellen Messmer is senior editor at Network World, an IDG website, where she covers news and technology trends related to information security. Twitter: MessmerE. E-mail:

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