Yes! Websense shows security doesn’t have to be a downer

I feel like I should be making fun of it, but there’s something undeniably appealing about Websense’s new branding.

Earlier this year, while talking to an executive at the InfoSecurity Canada conference, I covered the firm’s Web Security Gateway product while it was still in development. As data loss prevention goes, Websense was taking a tack both innovative and opportunistic – addressing the security fears that some executives have about social networking tools and meeting them head on. It helped them that organizations such as the Ontario Public Sector were banning the use of Facebook (a ban, rumour has it, that will quietly be lifted), and that many Web 2.0 applications seemed so full of holes.

More interesting than the official launch of the product today, however, was the new company slogan and logo Websense has chosen to highlight its go-to-market approach. Next to the firm’s name is an orange air bubble with a jaunty, emphatic “Yes!” According to the company, this is directly aimed at senior technology professionals.

“Only with Websense, can CIOs say ‘Yes!’ to business management when they need to use Web 2.0 to drive business objectives. You will see our refreshed brand reflected in everything we do over time,” Websense CEO Gene Hodges said in a statement.

Okay, go ahead and roll your eyes, but it’s a refreshing change from the usual tactics of IT security firms, which is to emphasize the danger lurking around every corner of the data centre. Whether it’s surveys about how negligent (or outright nefarious) internal employees are, the increasing sophistication of hackers or the laundry list of major breaches, security vendors tend to come across like negative Nancys, the party-poopers that add an extra layer of policy onto business processes. Accentuating the positive – with an exclamation point, no less – is clever marketing but also makes a good point about how IT departments could build security into the culture.

If products like the Web Security Gateway (or similar tools from other companies) were seen as business enablers rather than merely business protectors, security might eventually considered a simple but necessary part of operations. CIOs, after all, don’t like saying “no” any more than the next guy. The only problem is they don’t often get a chance to respond either way – things happen outside of their policies without their knowledge and they clean up the mess afterwards. The fact that Websense refers specifically to CIOs (and not, say, CEOs) is a healthy indication that IT departments deserve greater consultation and engagement on any actions that would affect the organization’s security.

Maybe I’m reading too much into Websense’s branding, but I’ll be interested to see how the new logo and slogan are received by its target market. This is the kind of thing that could succeed wildly or fail miserably. It’s about time a security firm took such a risk.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada
Shane Schick
Shane Schick
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