Making Sense of Websense’s Acquisitions Strategy

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Hodges’ arrival Meizlik says Websense has made four key acquisitions:

—In 2006, Websense purchased non-exclusive rights to Inktomi Traffic Server, technology that enabled Websense to create a proxy gateway, an intermediary server between browsers and content servers, for filtering Web traffic.

—In late 2006, Websense paid $90 million to acquire PortAuthority, which had developed content filtering software designed to prevent sensitive or confidential data from being sent out of a corporate network. Meizlik says the technology was an ideal fit for the company’s customer base. “About 90 percent of all data leaks are the result of an accident, or employee error, or broke business practices” Meizlik says. Websense now can prevent an employee from e-mailing confidential data, posting it to a Web site or downloading it to a USB memory stick.

—In 2007, Websense acquired its biggest competitor, SurfControl, a UK-based content-filtering software developer that effectively doubled Websense from 25,000 to 50,000 corporate customers, and from 700 to approximately 1,200 employees. Websense executives told IT security analysts at the time the combination of two companies with similar content-filtering capabilities would enable them to compete more closely with larger rivals such as Symantec, McAfee, and Trend Micro. The acquisition also allowed Websense to gain a foothold in the emerging market for hosted security, or Software as a Service (SaaS).

—Websense’s acquisition of Defensio last month made the company’s shift into Web 2.0 and hosted security software more evident. In an announcement earlier this week, Websense unveiled its expanding capabilities in providing hosted e-mail security and hosted Web security. The approach enables Websense to identify and block spam or an e-mail containing malicious software or link to a malicious Web site before it reaches its destination.
Websense now says it provides protection for more than 42 million employees at more than 50,000 organizations worldwide, with software and hosted security applications that help customers block malicious code, prevent the loss of confidential information, and enforce Internet use and security policies.

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Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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