The purchase of cloud security firm Websense by Raytheon highlights that cyber security may be one of the next big growth areas for defense contractors. Raytheon, which is world's largest maker of guided missiles, took over Websense in a deal worth $1.9 billion and will add the firm to its own cybersecurity unit.
Websense -- based in Austin, Texas -- was found in 1994 and went public in 2000 under the ticker symbol "WBSN". It has been ranked by market research firm Gartner Inc. (IT) in the top five in terms of so-called "secured web gateway" (SWG) solutions. The technology can use keyword based filtering as well as other more sophisticated content classification algorithms, including data fingerprinting.
Many of the applications of SWG are transparent and subject to little controversy. SWG solutions can offer a means to block malware, phishing, and spam, for example in email systems or via filtering of internet traffic.
Indeed most of Websense's business has ostensibly been aimed at these sorts of ends. But the deal will likely receive scrutiny -- in part -- as Raytheon is paying far more than one might expect for the company. Clearly Raytheon sees some growth potential or additional value in Websense. Could such factors give cause for concern?