|Founded||1994Sorrento Valley, San Diegoin|
|Headquarters||Austin, Texas, U.S.|
|Manny Rivelo, CEO|
|Revenue||$658 million (2019)|
Number of employees
Forcepoint is an American multinational corporation software company headquartered in Austin, Texas, that develops computer security software and data protection, cloud access security broker, firewall and cross-domain solutions.
Forcepoint was founded in 1994 as an information technology reseller called NetPartners. It was renamed Websense in 1999 and became a public company in 2000 at the peak of the dot-com bubble. Vista Equity Partners acquired Websense in 2013 for $906 million. Raytheon acquired an 80% interest in Websense in April 2015 for $1.9 billion and acquired the remaining 20% interest in 2019. In 2015, Websense acquired network security vendor Stonesoft from Intel and in 2016, the company was renamed Forcepoint. Francisco Partners acquired the company from Raytheon in January 2021.
The company was founded in 1994 as NetPartners in Sorrento Valley, San Diego by Phil Trubey. The company began as a reseller of network security products, and then developed software for controlling Internet use by employees.
In 1998, NetPartners raised $6 million in venture capital funding and had $6 million in annual revenue. Later that year, investors pushed Trubey out of the CEO position and appointed John Carrington as his replacement.
In June 1999, NetPartners was renamed Websense.
In 2006, Websense acquired a fingerprint security company, PortAuthority. for $90 million. In October 2007, it acquired email security vendor SurfControl for $400 million. In 2009, it acquired Defensio, a spam and malware company focused on social media.
In 2013, Vista Equity Partners acquired the company for $906 million. Websense headquarters were moved to San Diego that year and to Austin, Texas in 2014. In 2015, Raytheon acquired the firm from Vista Equity Partners for $1.9 billion and combined it with RCP, formerly part of its IIS segment, to form Raytheon|Websense. In October 2015, Raytheon added Foreground Security,, for $62 million.
Raytheon acquired an 80% interest in Websense in May 2015 for about $1.9 billion. In October 2015, the company acquired two subsidiaries of Intel, Stonesoft and Sidewinder, for $389 million. Stonesoft was a network security product previously known as "McAfee Next-Generation Firewall;" Sidewinder was a firewall previously known as McAfee Firewall Enterprise.
In January 2016, Websense, along with the two subsidiaries Stonesoft and Sidewinder, were merged and rebranded as Forcepoint. Raytheon's "Cyber Products" business was also merged into the new brand. At the time, Forcepoint had 2,000 employees, with one-third of its customers being departments in the federal government of the United States. Forcepoint was the smallest of five major businesses owned by Raytheon, but had the highest profit margin. The following year, Forcepoint began shuffling executives in a re-organization effort that included some layoffs. The company was divided into four business units: Cloud Security, Network Security, Data & Insider Threat Security, and Global Governments.
In April 2016, Matthew Moynahan was appointed chief executive officer of Forcepoint. In February 2017, Forcepoint acquired a cloud-based access broker (CASB) security product from Imperva called Skyfence. In August 2017, it acquired user and entity behavior analytics company RedOwl. In the fourth quarter of 2019, Raytheon acquired the remaining 20% of the company from Vista Ventures Partners LLC for $588 million.
In July 2023, Francisco Partners agreed to divest the government cybersecurity business of Forcepoint to buyout firm TPG Inc. for $2.45 billion, as the company intends to focus on its commercial business.
By 1997, three years after Forcepoint was founded, the company had published version 3 of its software. Version 3.0 introduced the software's first graphical, web-based administrative user interface. At the time, Forcepoint's software was only used to prevent employees from viewing certain types of content at work, but in 2006 features were added to detect when employees were attempting to visit websites suspected of hosting malicious code.
In 2007 Websense introduced a product to control the content a user can see on social media websites, an endpoint security product, a website reputation ranker, and a small business version. Additionally, a product was added to the Websense suite that identifies sensitive files in un-secure locations on the corporate network and looks for records of those files being transmitted.
Websense introduced its first appliance product in 2009.
In 2010, some products were consolidated into the Triton software, which became responsible for increasingly large portions of the company's revenue. In February 2012, Forcepoint released a cloud-based suite of IT security products for smartphones, tablets, laptops, USB drives, and other mobile devices. Upgrades to the suite in 2012 added the ability to identify confidential information in an image file. Three new products or revisions were introduced in 2016, all focused on security risks caused by employees.
Forcepoint has a policy against selling to governments and ISPs that engage in Internet censorship, however it has been criticized for a "perceived link to censorship of free speech and the dissemination of knowledge."
In 2009, it was discovered that the Yemeni government was using Forcepoint's products to monitor the public's internet use and block tools that allow citizens to hide their internet use from the government and the software Alkasir was created to circumvent it. Forcepoint responded by cutting off the country's access to the firm's database updates. However, then Sanaa based British-Irish journalist Iona Craig complained on Twitter, access to Tumblr, which many press agents use to spread news, remained closed inside Yemen, her pleas being ignored. It soon appeared that Canadian software company Netsweeper also aids Yemen authorities to censor, even the Houthi government being its customer.
A 2002 study in JAMA found that Forcepoint had the best-performing web-filtering products in terms of blocking pornography while allowing health information. In contrast, a 2005 report by the Rhode Island branch of the American Civil Liberties Union said Forcepoint is a "blunt instrument" and that in public libraries equipped with Forcepoint people of all ages "are still denied access to a wide range of legitimate material." A 2006 report by Brennan Center for Justice found that Forcepoint often blocked websites that discussed pornography, but did not actually feature pornography. The software also blocked a furniture website called "the-strippers.com ", which is not pornographic, but a website for a furniture refinisher. In the author's study, 0-15 percent of the sites blocked by Forcepoint should have been viewable by the user and 10 percent of objectionable websites were let through, rather than blocked. According to blogger Jillian York, Forcepoint blocks pages that contain pornographic links anywhere in its content, even in the comments section. He said, "a malicious attacker could get your whole site blocked at any time by the simple procedure of leaving dangerous, malicious or pornographic links in a blog's comments".
For approximately 15 minutes in 2009, Forcepoint classified router company Cisco Systems's website under 'hack sites', due to one of Cisco's IP addresses being named on a hacker website. The IP address was reviewed and deemed not a threat.
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- "Francisco Partners to Acquire Forcepoint from Raytheon Technologies" (Press release). October 26, 2020.
- "PE Firm to Acquire Forcepoint From Raytheon | SecurityWeek.Com". www.securityweek.com. 26 October 2020. Retrieved 2020-11-09.
- "Francisco Partners Completes Acquisition of Forcepoint". 11 January 2021.
- "TPG to buy Forcepoint unit from Francisco Partners for $2.45 billion, Wall Street Journal reports". Reuters. 2023-07-10. Retrieved 2023-07-19.
- Websense 3.0. Ziff Davis, Inc. May 6, 1997. p. 95-IA5.
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- Garling, Caleb (December 8, 2011). "Websense Joins Goohoosoft's Fight For Human Rights". Wired.
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- Yemen rebels using Canadian software to censor internet.
- Planet Netsweeper: Executive Summary - The Citizen Lab.
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- Richardson, Caroline R.; Resnick, Paul J.; Hansen, Derek L.; Derry, Holly A.; Rideout, Victoria J. (December 11, 2002). "Does Pornography-Blocking Software Block Access to Health Information on the Internet?". JAMA. 288 (22): 2887–2894. doi:10.1001/jama.288.22.2887. ISSN 0098-7484. PMID 12472332.
- "ACLU OF RHODE ISLAND RELEASES REPORT ON "TROUBLING" INTERNET CENSORSHIP IN STATE'S PUBLIC LIBRARIES" (Press release). American Civil Liberties Union. April 19, 2005.
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- "West Censoring East: Or Why Websense Thinks My Blog is Pornography". Jillian York (coauthor of the 2010-2011 ONI report). March 28, 2011.
I will say that Yemen has stopped using [Forcepoint] and we're not aware of any other countries–at least in the Middle East and North Africa–that use the software.
- Leyden, John (March 20, 2009). "Websense mistakes Cisco.com for hack site". The Register.