With security and cloud-computing both hot-button topics, Verizon Communications and McAfee are joining forces to offer customers a combination of the two.

Verizon's business unit and McAfee announced Thursday a new joint venture to sell cloud-based security products and services to large businesses and government agencies. With more companies tapping into the "cloud" to lower costs and outsource administration, McAfee and Verizon will sell a new suite of cloud-based security products, expanding on Verizon's current lineup.

Managed by Verizon, the new cloud-based services will offer an array of security products, including firewalls, intrusion prevention, anti-malware, and Secure Socket Layer (SSL) virtual private networks (VPNs).

"This strategic agreement with McAfee enables us to drive even more complete and integrated IT solutions to enterprises across the world," said Kerry Bailey, senior vice president of Verizon Business global solutions. "Our newly expanded and next-generation cloud capabilities will enable organizations to better use security as a strategic tool and business enabler."

The team-up will also allow Verizon and McAfee to tap into each other's portfolio of products and services.

Verizon will offer its customers McAfee's entire line of security software and will soon provide McAfee's PCI (Payment Card Industry) compliance services to banks and other organizations that need to secure credit card data.

The PCI services will be targeted to "Level 4" merchants--businesses that manage up to 1 million credit card transactions each year. Verizon said this business class is at the highest risk for security breaches and accounts for one-third of all credit card transactions. In April, Verizon released a report showing that more payment card records were breached in 2008 than in the previous four years combined.

McAfee's customers will now be able to contact Verizon's network of 1,200 security professionals for assistance on setting up and managing in-house security.

Finally, Verizon will help McAfee consolidate its data centers, so that McAfee can better offer 24/7 management for its own Web hosting and cloud-based services.

Verizon and McAfee will target the new products and services to small-to-medium companies, large enterprises, and government entities.

McAfee has been pushing to grow beyond the consumer market through a series of deals and acquisitions. In July, the company said it would buy MX Logic, which provides cloud-based e-mail and other services. In May, McAfee bought white-listing vendor Solidcore.