Forcepoint eyes human factor for global government cyber growth

The Raytheon-backed Forcepoint venture focuses on defending the people in cybersecurity and sees that as its angle to expand in global government markets.

Defending hardware platforms and devices are a constant fact of life in cybersecurity but there is also the human factor that Forcepoint does not want anyone to lose sight of.

Namely, that focus on human behaviors as the defining moment in a cyber incident whether such behavior was meant to cause the incident or not, according to George Kamis, chief technology officer for the global government business at commercial cyber product company Forcepoint.

“The human in many cases can inadvertently be the threat or maliciously be the threat by accidentally downloading something, if they execute it and send data to the wrong location,” Kamis told Washaington Technology. “You can take one of the many examples about data compromise in commercial companies or even government. It’s about protecting the individual from making the mistake.”

This is year three of Raytheon’s big bet on commercial cyber via Forcepoint, a joint venture the defense contractor formed two years ago in partnership with former majority owners Vista Equity Partners. Raytheon owns 80 percent of Austin, Texas-headquartered Forcepoint and Vista holds the remaining 20 percent.

Forcepoint’s key government focus areas include data protection, insider threat, network security, cloud security and cross-domain tools for secured information access and transfer. The business functions as a standalone segment alongside Raytheon’s $6.2 billion intelligence, information and services segment that houses much of the defense contractor’s cyber portfolio for civilian, military and intelligence agencies.

As part of WT Top 100 series, IIS President Dave Wajsgras told me earlier this year that Forcepoint seeks to address commercial cyber at a “different pace, different cadence and a different objective typically” than the defense market. That is in part because Forcepoint’s competitive space includes other cyber giants Symantec and Palo Alto Networks, for example.

Kamis said that the Raytheon side focuses largely on longer-term, large opportunities that its business development teams identify through routine market surveys. Forcepoint’s commercial and competitive space requires the venture to be quicker and agile, he said.

“Raytheon puts a tremendous amount of money into new cyber concepts that many times are suited to go to market” for the company’s government customers, Kamis said. “We can take that technology, leverage it for products and take it to market for our commercial customers.”

Forcepoint looks poised for some growth this year based on Raytheon’s latest guidance issued in July with second quarter results. Raytheon expects Forcepoint to post $600 million in revenue this year at a 6-percent increase from last year at an operating margin of 10-11 percent.

Kamis told WT the venture’s current government markets are countries in the “Five Eyes” intelligence sharing alliance that counts the U.S., Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the U.K. as members. Neither Raytheon nor Forcepoint disclose the venture’s government revenue but Kamis called public sector a “major contributor” to top-line performance.

Over the long-term, Kamis said Forcepoint seeks to expand into new government regions outside of the U.S. and its Five Eyes partners. That geographic expansion effort involves Forcepoint’s flagship cross-domain products that are currently only available to Five Eyes countries.

The key year for Forcepoint’s growth to take off seemingly is in 2018 following this year’s “investments in the backroom to get them ready to go,” Raytheon CEO Tom Kennedy told investors in the company’s July 23 second quarter earnings call.

Raytheon reported $101 million in sales for Forcepoint for 2014, $352 million for 2015 and then $561 million in 2016. Forcepoint was created in 2015 through a combination of the former Websense business with the Raytheon Cyber Products business once part of the IIS segment.