Raytheon-Vista Cyber JV Adopts ‘Forcepoint’ Name, Seeks Focus on Internal Net Monitoring

cyberwarfareThe cybersecurity joint venture of Raytheon and technology investment firm Vista Equity Partners has passed the half-year mark since its mid-2015 launch and has entered the next chapter under a new identity.

Waltham, Mass.-based Raytheon, maker of Patriot missiles and other military weapons, made a large bet on the government and commercial cyber markets in April 2015 when it agreed to acquire majority control of Websense from Vista for nearly $2 billion in a transaction that included a $600 inter-company million loan toward the joint venture that started under the name of Raytheon | Websense.

As announced Thursday, the joint venture now operates under the name of “Forcepoint” with the goal to help government agencies and private businesses secure their networks from inside and outside threats and to embrace cloud computing, mobile and Internet of Things technologies with security in mind.

Forcepoint LogoForcepoint, headquartered in Austin, Texas, is 80-percent owned by Raytheon with the remaining stake held by Vista and has nearly 22,000 customers worldwide in the public and private sectors.

The venture’s approach toward cybersecurity is to think beyond the concept of a strong firewall and instead shift focus toward asymetrical cyber activities and continuous monitoring of networks for both internal and external threats, Chief Strategy Officer Ed Hammersla has told ExecutiveBiz.

“It turns out in practice to be very difficult to keep people from getting in but once they’re in you can deploy certain tools to discover their presence and eliminate harm,” he added.

Hammersla, who also heads the venture’s Herndon, Va.-based federal business unit, analogized cyber defense efforts to the healthcare arena in that networks will never have a perfect environment without breaches or other issues that affect their overall internal health.

“Just like human beings have to operate when we’re not 100 percent in perfect health, organizations can operate at close-to-optimum even with challenges inside their networks.

Forcepoint has its own board of directors and financial reports are detailed as a separate business unit of Raytheon.

Raytheon and Vista started the venture under a founding thesis that sought to acknowledge the sophistication and scale of attacks enterprises are facing and to offer customers large platforms designed to handle that volume, Hammersla said.

“The joint venture was founded to recognize this as a long-term play with significant financial and R&D resources to come up with the right approach,” he told ExecutiveBiz.

“Our approach is to show less emphasis on the perimeter and firewall and more on the internal workings of users, data and movement so we can detect unwanted intruders.”

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