Network technology company Cisco announced this week that it plans to buy a software-as-a-service (SaaS) company that provides IT security for business customers on the web.

The announcement by Cisco that it will buy SaaS security company ScanSafe for $183 million demonstrates the growing prominence of cloud computing for providing mid-sized businesses with email and web security.

Other companies in the IT security industry have recently bought cloud providers, due to a growing web security marketplace that Cisco said will reach $2.3 billion by 2012.

ScanSafe's CEO Eldar Tuvey said "enterprises are increasingly focused on a flexible and mobile workplace," and hosted web security is more important than ever due to evolving online threats.

Another report by a security company demonstrates the vital need for protection from online threats. McAfee reported survey results today that found security breaches cost mid-sized companies an average of $43,000 this year.

Cloud computing companies can host websites and email for business clients, providing IT security on a 24-hour basis and allowing mid-sized firms to focus on their core strengths and business operations.

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