Columbia-based Sourcefire, the maker of cybersecurity software, has agreed to be acquired by networking equipment giant Cisco for $2.7 billion, the firms announced today.

San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco will pay $76 a share in cash and assume

A Cisco office is pictured in San Diego, California in this November 12, 2012 file photo. Cisco Systems Inc said it will buy software maker Sourcefire Inc for about $2.7 billion to increase its network security services. (MIKE BLAKE/REUTERS)

outstanding equity for a total purchase price of approximately $2.7 billion, according to a news release. The deal has been approved by the board of directors at both companies.

The companies said in a statement that the acquisition will allow Cisco to provide a greater degree of protection against cyber attacks on computer networks by incorporating Sourcefire’s software.

“Today, the perimeter is vanishing to encompass the mobile network and the cloud, all of which create entry points and an infrastructure that in many cases the IT manager no longer controls,” Chris Young, Cisco’s senior vice president of security and government, said in a conference call about the acquisition Tuesday morning.

“Sourcefire was the thought leader early on in security by embracing and developing a vibrant open source community with a leading set of products,” Young said, referencing in particular Sourcefire’s open-source security product Snort, an intrusion detection and prevention technology with nearly 4 million downloads to date. “This was an important attribute that attracted us to Sourcefire.”

Cisco’s global reach could help Sourcefire expand its footprint, Sourcefire founder and chief technology officer Marty Roesch said during the call.

The acquisition is expected to close later this year pending regulatory approval. Once the deal is complete, Sourcefire employees will become part of the Cisco Security Group.

This is one of a series of security-related acquisitions Cisco has made in the past few years. It acquired security software firm ScanSafe Inc., based in London and San Francisco, for approximately $183 million in 2009, and Czech artificial-intelligence firm Cognitive Security in February of this year for an undisclosed amount.

Founded in 2001, Sourcefire counts more than 650 employees worldwide. The firm went public in 2007 and reported revenue of $223.1 million for 2012.

Follow Steven Overly on Twitter: @StevenOverly