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Apple has made a swoop for security firm AuthenTec for $356 million, just ten days after the company signed a new deal with Samsung.

AuthenTec, which makes security software and fingerprint sensor chips that are used for security and identification purposes, just partnered up with Samsung to provide security and device management services to Android devices that are part of the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend — which sees workers using their own devices in enterprise.

AuthenTec's service would allow IT managers to secure and authenticate those devices to ensure they are safe.

What this acquisition means for Apple is unclear at this point, but it's possible the Cupertino company has plans for its security technologies in its own Mac and iOS devices. GigaOM also suggests it could be interested in its payment security technology for a future iPhone equipped with NFC.

However, AuthenTec's strong patent portfolio could be the real reason behind the acquisition. The company is said to own 200 technology patents in total, which could provide Apple will further ammunition in its ongoing legal suits.

Whether this will have any impact on AuthenTec's relationship with Samsung remains to be seen. Apple and Samsung are currently involved in a lengthy legal battle of their own over intellectual properties that has resulted in a number of Samsung's Android devices being banned in several countries. Despite this, the two companies continue to work together, and Apple is Samsung's largest component customer.

[via GigaOM]