Cybersecurity defense groups are stepping in to help companies better protect their data and strengthen their security.
Firms like BAE Systems, Raytheon, Ultra Electronics and others are bringing the expertise they have garnered over decades of helping governments and military forces to private entities in need of the same services, Financial Times reported on Monday (March 28).
“They have a proven record in being able to handle confidential information,” Thomas Rid, professor of security studies at King’s College London, told FT. “The trust advantage they get is higher than other companies.”
According to Forrester Research, the 15 largest documented attacks that took place in 2015 compromised the personal data of more than 300 million customers from companies.
“It sounds intuitive for outsiders to think that defense companies should be good at cybersecurity,” Rid added. “But, if you look at the technology and skills, it is not a critical advantage.”
The disadvantages facing defense companies that choose to enter the cybersecurity landscape include the fact that they are accustomed to serving a single customer in need of a bespoke product that typically takes years to develop and deliver, FT explained.
“To be successful, you need the commercial know-how to create repeatability — higher volume, lower value,” Peyman Mestchian, managing partner of Chartis Research, told FT. “There, defense companies do struggle when they go head to head with some of the software specialists. They don’t seem to be good at … making it repeatable — out of the box and easy to use.”
Last year, Raytheon made a $1.7 billion bet that it can translate the security skills it currently brings to bear for its military and intelligence clients into protection for retailers and banks.
The firm acquired computer security company Websense from private equity firm Vista Partners in an effort to help overcome the challenge to traditional defense contracting.
“In the defense market, you build software for a specific government requirement,” Ed Hammersla, chief strategy officer of Raytheon’s cyberbusiness, Forcepoint. “But, in the commercial market, you build to general requirements.”