HelpSystems Bolsters Data Loss Prevention with Clearswift Buy
December 4, 2019 Alex Woodie
HelpSystems completed the first acquisition of the Kate Bolseth era this week with the purchase of Clearswift, a UK-based provider of data loss prevention (DLP) solutions. The software will play nicely with HelpSystems’ existing managed file transfer (MFT) offerings for IBM i and other platforms, according to new CEO Bolseth, who indicates that more and bigger acquisitions are on the horizon.
Clearswift develops what it calls adaptive DLP, or A-DLP, technology that can automatically stop sensitive data from leaving the digital bounds of a company. When installed on a network gateway, the software will analyze the content of the documents or data about to be shared with the outside world via the Web or via email, and actually redact sensitive parts of it.
“In layman’s terms, they do deep content inspection,” Bolseth told IT Jungle Tuesday from the Theale, the town about 45 minutes west of London where Clearswift is headquartered. “It can actually detect information that should not be shared, and it can prevent and sanitize inbound and outbound data. It also has the ability to detect malicious content.”
HelpSystems’ existing client base, including companies that run GoAnywhere MFT on IBM i servers, will benefit tremendously from having a DLP solution to prevent the slippage of sensitive data out of their servers, Bolseth said.
“This has been something that our IBM i customers are interested in adding into their portfolio,” Bolseth said. “While it doesn’t run on the i, it’s complementary to our IBM i customers.”
HelpSystems determined that DLP was something that it could most effectively address by acquiring an existing provider, and it did so at the direct request of customers, according to Bolseth. “We have extraordinarily strong relationships with our IBM i customers. We hear what they’re looking for, and we tend to build and/or acquire it to round out the solutions they want to partner with HelpSystems on,” she says.
Clearswift’s solutions sit at the “critical cornerstones” of the cybersecurity world, according to Ciaran Rafferty, the managing director of Clearswift. “We are confident we have found the perfect home for Clearswift and believe HelpSystems will continue to drive the products and business forward,” he said in a press release.
Clearswift was founded in 1982, employs 170 people, and had revenue of £20.8 million in 2012 (or about $27 million at current exchange rates), according to its Wikipedia entry. The company focused on the network security market (but alas, the company’s launch of Route400 in 1988 was just an MS-DOS product) and had been active on the mergers and acquisition front. In 2017, it was acquired by acquired by RUAG, a Swiss defense company.
The company sells a range of point products under the A-DLP banner, including SECURE Email Gateway (SEG), SECURE Exchange Gateway, Argon for Email, and several other others. In addition to the “active redaction” capability, the SEG offering features anti-spam and anti-virus capabilities, and can be used to prevent ransomware attacks, in addition to complying with regulations like PCI, GDPR, and HIPAA, the company says.
The vendor’s European experience factored into HelpSystems decision to buy it. “They have a very strong presence throughout Europe, specifically in the critical national infrastructure space, like defense, so there’s a lot of opportunity for us to a potential cross-sell our solution even more in these territories,” Bolseth said.
This was the first deal that Bolseth has overseen since she took over the top job at HelpSystems earlier this year. She replaced Chris Heims, who was the CEO since early 2015, a period of time that saw HelpSystems complete numerous deals for IBM i vendors, including Linoma, Halcyon, Tango/04 Computing Group, Bugbusters, and Midrange Performance Group, as well as vendors that don’t necessarily target the IBM i platform, like MVP Systems Software, Fox Technologies, and TeamQuest.
The Minnesota native says HelpSystems will continue its acquisitive path under her leadership. “We’re hearing a lot form our customers and demands around cyber security solutions,” she said. “That will continue to be a strong focus for us. I would also say that we have a strong focus on ITOM [IT operations management] and automation solutions, both organically as well as acquisition candidates.”