ThreatMetrix Inc. plans to make the best of its recent acquisition of TrustDefender Inc. by adding malicious software detection to its fraud-prevention software offerings for banks and retailers.

ThreatMetrix already has a reputation as a company emphasizing collaboration of data and partnerships with other risk-management companies to help merchants layer their defenses against online fraud.

As such, its Jan. 10 purchase of TrustDefender "is a very complementary acquisition for both companies, along the lines of a 'one plus one equals four' because each company contributes so much value to the other," says Julie Conroy McNelley, senior analyst and fraud expert with Boston-based Aite Group.

Constructing layers of fraud-prevention defenses for customers was "the underlying impetus" for the acquisition of TrustDefender, says Bert Rankin, ThreatMetrix vice president of marketing.

"We know there is no silver bullet to stopping fraud, but a layered approach can plug in as many holes as you can while allowing good customers to still purchase products on a merchant's website," Rankin says.

Merchants consistently told ThreatMetrix that malware detection was a key need in the fight against fraud, Rankin adds. "It has become the foundation for our offerings as a result of the TrustDefender acquisition," he says.

TrustDefender ID is cloud-based software that provides device identification of the computer being used to make an online purchase. "If the fraudster tries to hide his identity and is going to multiple sites, the device identification can detect that while also determining if the computer is a Russian device, yet the order is being made in English," Rankin says.

TrustDefender Cloud is cloud-based malware-detection software, alerting website operators to the existence of malware, "man-in-the-browser" attacks in which the fraudster can watch everything a user is doing on a website, or other potential threats.

TrustDefender Client represents fraud-detection software installed on the client's computer system to serve as the alert mechanism when potential cyber attacks unfold.

"The client would download this software to ensure secure browsing for its good customers because it locks down the browser from malware, so the malware can't execute through the system," Rankin notes.

A consumer visiting a merchant website using ThreatMetrix protection would not be aware fraud-prevention software was at work, Rankin says.

ThreatMetrix provides protection for well-known online sites like Stub Hub and Best Buy, but it also serves smaller websites, Rankin says.

Rankin did not disclose financial details of the TrustDefender purchase. He also did not provide specifics about the pricing of services, saying prices remain consistent with what the companies offered in the past and depend largely on the size of the client and how much protection they request.