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Raytheon agrees to acquire internet security firm WebSense

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April 21, 2015

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Raytheon confirmed this morning that it has agreed to acquire internet security firm Websense for $1.9 billion. The acquisition will form a new venture that will incorporate the U.S. defense contractor's existing cybersecurity services.

This strategic decision comes as the number of online attacks being launched against U.S. government agencies and defense contractors has greatly increased in the last twelve months.

In August 2014 for example, U.S.' Investigation Services, which conducts security-clearance background checks on government workers and contractors, suffered a critical data breach that exposed sensitive and personal information for over 25,000 government workers in the United States.

"The market for advanced internet security solutions that protect and defend global industry and infrastructure is rapidly growing due to the sophisticated threats posed by well-funded nation-state adversaries such as ISIS and other criminal networks," says Raytheon CEO and chairman Thomas Kennedy.

"As the business enterprise evolves to meet the networked demands of today's mobile and cloud economy, these threats will grow in size and scale," added Kennedy.

Websense is currently owned by the private equity firm Vista Equity Partners, which acquired the company for $906 million in June 2013.

At the time, Websense was attempting to transition from focusing on website blocking for corporate customers to offering a broader range of information security services, including its Triton threat-defense platform.

Once this transaction is completed, Raytheon will create a new company that combines Websense with the Raytheon Cyber Products business unit.

The new venture, which will be led by current Websense CEO John McCormack, will function as a separately reported Raytheon business segment.

Raytheon says it will hold an 80 percent ownership stake in the new company. Vista Equity will invest about $335 million in the new venture and hold a nearly 20 percent equity stake.

Raytheon says it expects the deal to close by October, and is subject to the usual regulatory approval process.

"This acquisition underscores the massive investments being allocated toward this high-priority area of IT spending and defense as global enterprises look to improve legacy security systems with next-generation technologies," said FBR Capital Markets analyst Daniel Ives.

In a letter to customers posted on the company's website, McCormack says Raytheon's planned acquisition of Websense is the first deal of its kind.

"This is the first time that a major cyber defense organization is broadly addressing the modern information security needs of enterprises around the globe," he says.

Security researcher Dan Kaminsky says Raytheon's planned Websense acquisition isn't surprising, given the ongoing increase in the quantity and severity of attacks that target the government sector.

"Government officials and federal agents were a little slow getting into IT, but they got in, and now they need it to make it work rapidly," says Kaminsky, who is chief scientist of click-fraud detection firm White Ops, in an interview at RSA Conference 2015 in San Francisco.

"Now it's under attack by a wild west of nation-state attackers. And if anything is considered a legitimate target by hackers, it's government resources," he added.

However, many government agencies continue to face several challenges related to detecting and remediating internet attacks and data breaches.

"The FBI, the CIA and the NSA have a lot of offensive resources, but even they can't deny that they need some defensive ones here," he says. "So we're going to see a lot of these types of acquisitions by defense contractors, because someone has to help the U.S. government get the right muscle in place."

Source: Raytheon Inc.

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