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Cybersecurity companies Netsurion of Fort Lauderdale and EventTracker of Columbia, Md., have agreed to merge, the companies announced Thursday. The combined company will be based in Fort Lauderdale.

Netsurion provides cybersecurity services to multi-location retail chains including Burger King, Dairy Queen, Firehouse Subs and SuperValu. The business was moved to Fort Lauderdale about a year ago by CEO Kevin Watson, a longtime resident of the area. He previously operated Sunrise-based information security company Verid, which was sold to EMC Corp. in 2007.

EventTracker, which manages security for small- and mid-sized businesses, was purchased for stock, Watson said. EventTracker CEO A.N. Ananth is expected to continue in his current role, and Watson will lead the parent company.

Together, the companies will "bring a lot of the capabilities of security for the enterprise [large-scale] market down to the retail market, " Watson said.

Previously, a managed firewall and anti-virus software were enough to protect most types of retail businesses, Watson said.

"Over the last few years, we've seen the sophistication of [cyber] attacks increasing. Hackers have figured out, instead of going after stores, to go after service providers, so the hack can access broader information, " he said.

Netsurion employs 31 in Fort Lauderdale, and 115 in Houston and St. Louis. The merger with EventTracker adds another 95 employees, currently in Maryland and Bangalore. The EventTracker staff won't be moving to Fort Lauderdale, Watson said.

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