In pictures: The 12 most powerful security companies

It's not just revenues and size, influence counts and excellence matters.

  • It’s not just revenues and size; influence counts, such as when a company makes widely-used software that gives them control over the security architecture of vendors and users; and certainly, excellence matters--some security vendors just keep getting high marks from independent test organizations and analysts year and year.

  • Symantec is the top vendor in terms of worldwide IT security-product revenues, dominating in endpoint security and messaging, according to research firm IDC. Steve Bennett was named CEO of Symantec in 2012.

  • Cisco is the top vendor in network-security gear, especially firewall and web security, says IDC. With the acquisition of Sourcefire last year, Sourcefire founder Martin Roesch took on the leadership role at Cisco of president and chief architect of Cisco’s Security Business Group.

  • Intel, the world’s largest semiconductor manufacturer, acquired security firm McAfee (the second-largest vendor in terms of IT security products) three years ago, and is now re-branding all things “McAfee” into “Intel Security” as it continues to pursue Intel’s “hardware-assisted security”” strategy. Brian Krzanich was named CEO of Intel last year.

  • According to IDC, IBM has pushed into third place in worldwide enterprise security revenue, dominating in identity and access management as well as security and vulnerability management. IBM is considered to be in third place in “server security” and “network intrusion detection and prevention.” Brendan Hannigan is general manager of the IBM Security Systems Division

  • Influence counts: Apple’s design of the iOS platform with its app-checking requirement subjects apps to a security review, though not everyone likes this closed-source model. But most acknowledge it has held down the problem of malicious apps and code. Apple’s interest in mobile payments processing could take it yet further into security.

  • VMware’s success in enterprise virtualization means that when it comes up with security plans related to its virtual-machine software, it has a huge impact on what other security vendors do on the VMware platform—whether they like it or not. VMware’s latest integrated security strategy is NSX, directed by Martin Casado, CTO for networking and security at VMware.

  • Both admired and scorned over the years for its security efforts, Microsoft started the once-a-month tradition of “Patch Tuesday” in 2003 for releases of software updates for its products, an event that doesn’t go unnoticed due to Microsoft’s market share. Microsoft, ranked among the top 15 IT security vendors in terms of revenues by IDC, has grown savvier over time, working more closely with security researchers, and is now known for its aggressive effort to take down crime botnets operated worldwide that have seized control of vulnerable computers.

  • Oracle's acquisition of Sun in 2010 gave it control over the Java framework and all the good, bad and the ugly of Java patch updates and security advisories.

  • In terms of achieving top marks in independent technical evaluations of its firewall products year after year, Check Point Software Technologies retains it market clout and is ranked fourth in terms of worldwide enterprise security revenue by IDC.

  • Though it did give its customers some heartburn last year with a notoriously bad anti-malware update release, Kaspersky Lab consistently receives top marks year after year in independent anti-malware test evaluations for the effectiveness of its security software. Eugene Kaspersky, the CEO and chairman of the privately-held company he founded in Moscow, is a globe trotter who speaks his mind on issues ranging from botnet crime to cyber-espionage.

  • Gartner is the IT consultancy whose “thumb’s-up, thumb’s down” verdicts on IT products and services can make the biggest security vendors enraged or exultant, depending on each Gartner “Magic Quadrant” report. Gartner’s security analysts, including Neil MacDonald, Greg Young, Avivah Litan, Paul Proctor and Lawrence Orans, are among those influencing vendor product and service development and enterprise adoption.

  • As the official point for Android open-source code, Google plays a major role in guiding the security architecture of mobile devices based on it. In Google search, “Google hacking” techniques can be used to locate vulnerable websites. And with its cloud-based applications and large user base, Google infrastructure is a target of government cyber-espionage and hackers. All this means Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt can find his day filled with security and privacy controversies worldwide.

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