RealTime IT News

$90M For Data Loss Prevention Makes Websense

Security software maker Websense  agreed to buy partner PortAuthority Technologies for approximately $90 million in cash to stake its claim in the emerging market for preventing information leaks.

PortAuthority is one of a handful of startups making information-leak prevention software, which prevents perpetrators from taking information from within the confines of the company.

The company writes PreciseID data-fingerprinting software that lets companies manage how confidential data is permitted to leave an organization and under what circumstances.

Websense makes ThreatSeeker software that filters out external Internet-based security threats, such as viruses and worms, before they have a chance to steal business information from customers or impinge on IT operations.

The combination of Websense and PortAuthority software will protect customers from outsiders, as well as from disgruntled employees or a person who covertly sneaks into an office and tries to tap into computer systems.

The deal builds on an existing OEM technology alliance.

In September, Websense agreed to license PortAuthority's PreciseID as the backbone technology for Websense Deep Content Control software, which acts as a "digital data guardian" to help control how sensitive data can leave the organization and under what circumstances.

Websense Deep Content Control provides security administrators with a deep knowledge of Internet destinations, protocols and applications, along with detailed fingerprints of internal data to protect outbound, internal and Web-based e-mail; Web postings; instant messaging; file transfers and network printing.

Websense CEO Gene Hodges said on a conference call he believes PortAuthority's technology is a "good fit with our current business," and said the "potential synergies between the two companies were significant."

He also said the market for data-loss prevention is likely to grow far faster than the content-filtering offerings Websense currently provides.

To be sure, the acquisition is rooted in the notion that the majority of major security problems don't arise from worms or viruses, but from people lifting sensitive information from computers.

Hodges also said Websense wanted to make the deal before consolidation took hold of the information-leak prevention space. For example, another acquirer of PortAuthority could have posed a serious threat to Websense's OEM deal.

"We protect ourselves by owning this technology," Hodges said.

In October, McAfee  snapped up data-loss-protection player Onigma; Hodges said Symantec  and others are rumored to be making a move in this nascent, multi-billion-dollar security software niche.

IDC claims the market for data-centric content control will grow from $194 million in 2007 to $434.6 million in 2009.

Hodges said Websense intends to keep most of PortAuthority's 60 employees, including those in the PortAuthority's Palo Alto, Calif., headquarters and the company's research and development team in Ra'anana, Israel.

The purchase is expected to close in January.