Intel is eyeing a bigger slice of the enterprise network security market.

The company announced today that its McAfee security division is buying Stonesoft, a Helsinki-based provider of advanced firewall technology and network protection products, for $389 million. The deal will help Intel establish a firmer foothold in the high-stakes enterprise data security arena.

Snapping up Stonesoft helps McAfee cast a wider, more intelligent net to catch a growing number of sophisticated attacks.

Stonesoft's product slate is anchored by its Security Engine (NGN) and Management Center (SMC) offerings. Its adaptive NGN technology provides scalable, configurable firewall, virtual private network (VPN) and intrusion prevention services that can be deployed as software virtual or physical appliances.

To ward off hackers, Stonesoft also offers an Evasion Prevention System (EPS). "AETs are the stealth attack methods used to disguise known exploits in advanced targeted attacks – perpetrated by the most sophisticated, resourceful hackers and cyber criminals," explains the company's website.

Designed to detect and block advanced evasion techniques (AETs), EPS employs the company's anti-evasion technology, which builds on the ability of Stonesoft's firewalls and IPS to decode and normalize network traffic to detect and block suspect traffic that would otherwise go unnoticed by typical network protection solutions. EPS is fully automated and regularly updated, according to the company.

Stonesoft has over 6,500 customers and its firewall technology has earned it kudos from the IT security industry, including a "recommended" nod from NSS Labs.

What about McAfee's own firewall tech?

"McAfee already designs and deploys a high-assurance firewall, which provides protection to the world's most critical networks including government agencies," reminded Pat Calhoun, senior vice president and general manager of McAfee Network Security, in a company blog post. Acquiring Stonesoft's firewall technology pushes McAfee to new heights in safeguarding corporate IT systems.

"With this acquisition, I am extremely confident that we can deliver a next-generation firewall with the cutting-edge, technology from Stonesoft that is designed to meet the needs of an entirely new larger enterprise segment," added Calhoun.

Now with Stonesoft's technology in tow, Intel is positioned to help enterprises bolster their network defenses with a little help from the cloud, according to McAfee president Michael DeCesare.

"We plan to integrate Stonesoft’s offerings with other McAfee products to realize the power of McAfee’s Security Connected strategy. Stonesoft products will benefit from the collective expertise of more than 7,200 McAfee employees. Leveraging McAfee’s cloud-based Global Threat Intelligence service will provide our combined customers with unparalleled security," declared DeCesare in a press release.

Intel is no stranger to buying its way into new markets. The chipmaker spent a whopping $7.7 billion in 2010 to acquire its current IT security subsidiary, McAfee.

Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at eSecurity Planet and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.