November 8, 2016

Forcepoint Leads by Example in Collaborating for Cyber Success

Susan Helmick

Ed Hammersla, Forcepoint’s Chief Strategy Officer and Federal Division President, participated in the day’s first panel discussion at the Northern Virginia Technology Council’s (NVTC) Capital Cybersecurity Summit, November 3 in McLean, Virginia.

Titled “Collaborating for Cyber Success,” Ed’s panel focused on the unique centers of U.S. government and private sector cybersecurity innovation in the Washington, D.C. area and what experts and innovators in both sectors could learn from each other. Ed was joined on stage by moderator Mark Frantz, Co-Founder of Blue Delta Capital Partners and fellow panelists Anup Ghosh, CEO of Invincea and Jack Huffard, President, COO and Co-Founder of Tenable Network Security.

Introducing Ed, Mark remarked that Forcepoint was “the most dynamic and compelling cybersecurity story we’ve seen in a while” and Ed agreed that Forcepoint’s origins in the combination of Raytheon Cyber Products with Stonesoft and Websense was a perfect example of bringing innovations forged in the service of government and commercial organizations together.

With so many cybersecurity-related companies and issues coming to market, panelists agreed that the greater Washington, D.C. region is an ideal place to situate a security company’s headquarters or strategic offices. The panel noted that as cybersecurity concerns and incidents become more mainstream – a staple of daily news, pop culture and our personal lives – the Washington area’s communities of legal, policy, industry association and other groups are a tremendous networking and advocacy resource for security experts looking to raise awareness and inform important decisions.

“Dispelling myths” was another prime focus of the discussion. While some audience members suggested the Washington region is still typecast as a “government town” with more cybersecurity “laggards” than cutting edge innovators, the panelists explained how they have seen this inaccurate perception change over their respective careers.

Ed noted that Washington is the epicenter of some of the most important, transformational research in cybersecurity, through organizations like DARPA and others. He pointed out that as a result of so many sharp security minds in the government, there are numerous examples of outstanding cybersecurity progress and innovation within federal agencies. The challenge for federal officials, Ed explained, is that the massive size and growing interconnected nature of the government means security progress must scale rapidly – which can be challenging in any large organization, public or private.

When Mark asked whether security start-ups should try to sell into government or commercial organizations, first, the panelists offered a lot of valuable, practical insight gained over decades of experience in building and growing companies. Security entrepreneurs tend to want to sell products immediately, developed exactly as their inventors conceived them, panelists explained. On the other hand, large organizations in government, financial services, healthcare – or anywhere – are generally hesitant to quickly deploy a new invention with a short or nonexistent track record, meaning start-ups’ earliest sales to large enterprises are likely to testing environments.

The panel recommended the region’s security businesses capitalize on advantages the area gives them and seek out prospective customers who are motivated to try new approaches in cybersecurity due to unique size, budget, mission or other factors. “Unconventional, start-up thinking” also exists on the buyer side, they explained, and fledgling security companies able to find that mentality in professionals across industry and government can build strong networks that reliably open doors for new ideas.

Where do you think the government and private sector can best lead by example in cybersecurity? Share your thoughts on Twitter with us at @Forcepointsec and add #CapitalCyber if you have pictures or insights from the summit.

About Forcepoint

Forcepoint is the leading user and data protection cybersecurity company, entrusted to safeguard organizations while driving digital transformation and growth. Our solutions adapt in real-time to how people interact with data, providing secure access while enabling employees to create value.