New name just the start for Raytheon|Websense

Raytheon puts a new name -- Forcepoint -- on its Websense business, but a successful rebranding depends on performance, executive says.

I’ve written about a lot of corporate name changes over the year, and there is always a lot of talk about branding and how the name reflects the strength and direction of the company.

But I got very little of that when I talked to Ed Hammersla, the chief strategy officer of Forcepoint, the new name of the Raytheon|Websense business.

“A brand is what you make it,” he said, pointing to the example of Amazon. When that name was first proposed, people likely thought of a “muddy river full of crocodiles, but if you execute and deliver value then you build a brand.”

Making Forcepoint into a brand will rely on how the company executes. “It is up to us and what we deliver in the market and to our customers,” Hammersla said.

Raytheon|Websense was created in May when Raytheon created a joint venture with Vista Capital Partners, the owners of Websense. Raytheon folded its Cyber Products business in the venture. They also added other cyber related acquisitions such as the recently acquired Stonesoft as well as Trusted Computer Systems, Oakley and Visual Analytics.

The common thread is that all are commercial software companies, and Raytheon turned to the joint venture structure to let these businesses operate as commercial entities rather than under the traditional business model of a defense contractor.

Forcepoint has 2,000 employees and 20,000 customers. About a third of its customers are in the federal government, said Hammersla, who in addition to being chief strategy officer also is responsible for the Forcepoint’s federal business.

Forcepoint is considered a fifth unit of Raytheon and in is latest quarterly filing, it reported revenue of $114 million, making it by far the smallest unit, but it does have the highest operating margins at 17.5 percent.

Part of Forcepoint’s strategy is to bring tools to chief information security officers that allow them to take a more holistic approach to protecting their networks.

An important part of this, according to Hammersla, is being able to monitor what is going on inside the network.

“A lot of money – 70 percent to 80 percent – is spent on the perimeter,” he said. “We all grew up with the idea that if you build a bigger wall, you’ll be protected.”

But that hasn’t worked in the world of cyber. Not enough attention is paid to internal movements in network.

Forcepoint aims to address this with tools that will allow CISOs to gather and analyze movements inside of the network.

The idea is to attack the “dwell time” – how long a bad actor is inside a network. The average dwell time is 200 to 250 days, Hammersla said.

“You are better off letting 100 guys in for one minute than letting one guy in for 100 days,” he said.

That kind of approach to cybersecurity – where you accept that people will penetrate your network – can be difficult to accept, he said.

Hammersla said it is analogous to health care. “I can’t say I’m never going to get sick. That’s not reasonable, but what do I do when I get sick? How do I deal with it and still get things done?”

The company has a large portfolio of solutions around content security, insider threat data protection, cloud computing, and cross domain analytics.

Moving forward, they’ll continue to develop products that can automate aspects of network security while giving CISOs tools to ask questions and explore what the activity on their networks means.

“It’s a platform versus an endpoint solution approach,” he said.