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Websense to Acquire SurfControl: A Customer’s Perspective

Apr 29, 20073 mins
Data and Information Security

As I sifted through my e-mail on Saturday morning, I came across a note from Patricia Sueltz, CEO of SurControl. On April 26, Websense made a pre-conditional offer to acquire all of the shares of SurfControl plc.

In her words, “The proposed acquisition by Websense represents another positive step in the growth of SurfControl’s business. If the transaction is consummated, SurfControl would become part of a larger organization better positioned to compete with the larger players in the growing market for Internet security services.”

Wow. Maybe this comes as no surprise to you, but it is big news to me. Assuming this goes through, the #1 Web filtering company was buying #2. This is a bit like Greyhound buying Trailways in the bus business. If you follow this market at all, this is pretty big news.

For more details on the announcement, you can go to the Websense or Surfcontrol portal announcements.

First, let me say that I do not own any SurfControl or Websense stock. Michigan State Government is a big user of SurfControl products, with over 50,000 users on an enterprise contract.

I have been a big fan of SurfControl, and as a partner of ours, we have saved hundreds of thousands of dollars a month by blocking inappropriate content – including everything from spyware to porn. We rely on them on a 7 x 24 basis, and we’ve seen a big ROI using their web filtering.

A few years back, we went through a Request for Proposal (RFP) process which largely came down to Websense or SurfControl. I know from conversations with many CSO colleagues that similar efforts have occurred all around the country. After we picked SurfControl, we’ve also invested quite a lot of time and money in training our technical staff on the SurfControl products.

Assuming this deal goes through, what does it mean for Michigan and other SurfControl customers? The announcement lists many benefits such as combined research, a financially sound future, and the ability to compete against companies such as Symantec, Trend Micro, and McAfee. 

Maybe, those positives will pan out. Still, I worry about the eventual cost of migrating to new software – and the added training which will be required. I’m also concerned about what this means to pricing.

I’ve spent the past few years listening to SurfControl salespeople telling me why they are better than WebSense. Now the Yankees might merge with the Red Sox. If it happens, I have many questions.

What are your thoughts on Websense buying SurfControl?


Daniel J. Lohrmann is an internationally recognized cybersecurity leader, technologist and author. During his distinguished career, Dan has served global organizations in the public and private sectors in a variety of executive leadership capacities, including enterprise-wide Chief Security Officer (CSO), Chief Technology Officer (CTO) and Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) roles in Michigan State Government. Dan was named: "CSO of the Year," "Public Official of the Year," and a Computerworld "Premier 100 IT Leader." Dan is the co-author of the Wiley book, “Cyber Mayday and the Day After: A Leader’s Guide to Preparing, Managing and Recovering From Inevitable Business Disruptions.” Dan Lohrmann joined Presidio in November 2021 as an advisory CISO supporting mainly public sector clients. He formerly served as the Chief Strategist and Chief Security Officer for Security Mentor, Inc. Dan started his career at the National Security Agency (NSA). He worked for three years in England as a senior network engineer for Lockheed Martin (formerly Loral Aerospace) and for four years as a technical director for ManTech International in a US / UK military facility. Lohrmann is on the advisory board for four university information assurance (IA) programs, including Norwich University, University of Detroit Mercy (UDM), Valparaiso University and Walsh College. Earlier in his career he authored two books - Virtual Integrity: Faithfully Navigating the Brave New Web and BYOD For You: The Guide to Bring Your Own Device to Work. Mr. Lohrmann holds a Master's Degree in Computer Science (CS) from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, and a Bachelor's Degree in CS from Valparaiso University in Indiana.

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