Chalk up another milestone for Waterloo Region’s growing cybersecurity industry.

Earlier this week, Waterloo-based OpenText announced plans to acquire email-encryption firm Zix Corp. of Dallas, Texas for US$860 million.

The acquisition follows OpenText’s purchase last year of cybersecurity firm Carbonite Inc. and its subsidiary, Webroot. The combination bolsters OpenText’s strategy to grow both its enterprise and small-to-medium-sized (SMB) information-management lines, with an emphasis on security. 

“SMBs are the engine of economic growth,” OpenText CEO and CTO Mark Barrenechea said during a call with stock analysts and news reporters this week. “Some of the first activities a new business performs is purchasing computers, setting up a website and a corporate email account. At the same time, these businesses often lack the skill to adequately protect their businesses from phishing and malware attacks.”

He said OpenText plans to integrate the Carbonite, Webroot and Zix products “to create a powerhouse SMB platform for data protection, threat management, email security and compliance solutions.”

Barrenechea also heralded the experienced Zix employees who will be joining the OpenText team, a significant bonus in today’s red-hot market for tech talent.

“Zix adds significant talent with expertise in SMB, bringing more than 500 professionals with deep expertise in SMB and cybersecurity,” he said. “We are planning significant investment in our SMB platform, as well as the Zix talent that is already joining us.”

OpenText, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, already employs more than 14,000 people globally.

Cyberattacks on public and private organizations continue to accelerate year after year, with the remote-work phenomenon fuelling the increase. According to IBM’s 2021 Cost of a Data Breach Report, which features data compiled by the Ponemon Institute, the average cost of a data breach rose from US$3.86 million to US$4.24 million – the highest average total cost in the 17-year history of the report.

In a news release last month, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce noted that cybersecurity is of particular concern to SMBs. Along with partners like Communitech, the Chamber has started an awareness campaign called Cyber.Right.Now.

Fuelled by research at the University of Waterloo, Waterloo Region has steadily grown into a renowned hub for cybersecurity, digital threat detection, cryptography, quantum research, blockchain solutions and related security technology.

Canada is regularly counted among the top cybersecurity innovation countries in the world, and Waterloo Region is among the top cybersecurity clusters in Canada.

In addition to OpenText, Waterloo-area companies offering digital security products and services include eSentire, Arctic Wolf Networks, BlackBerry, Magnet Forensics, Cavelo, and Agilicus, among many others. 

 The region is also home to the Waterloo Cybersecurity and Privacy Institute and the Institute for Quantum Computing, both at the University of Waterloo.