A Growing Concern In recent years, private equity firms have become increasingly interested in cybersecurity companies. This is no surprise, given the prominence of data breaches in the news and the mounting pressure on businesses to protect themselves from attacks. But as private equity firms pour money into the cybersecurity industry, they are also creating a new set of challenges for CISOs and other security professionals. In this blog post, we'll explore some of the unique risks that private equity-backed companies face and offer some tips for mitigating those risks.
The first challenge is managing growth. When a private equity firm buys a cybersecurity company, its goal is typically to grow that company rapidly by investing in new products, hiring new staff, and making acquisitions. This growth can be good for the company's bottom line, but it also creates new risks. For example, if a company doubles in size in a short period of time, it may struggle to keep up with the demand for security services. Additionally, rapidly growing companies are often more likely to make acquisitions that don't fit well with their existing business model or that fail to take into account the potential cyber risks of the target company.
The second challenge is dealing with debt. Private equity firms typically use leverage to finance their investments, which means they take on debt in order to buy a company. This debt can put pressure on the company to generate quick returns, which can lead to shortcuts being taken on cybersecurity initiatives or cyber investments being made without proper due diligence. Additionally, if a company backed by private equity needs to restructure its debt, that process can give creditors significant control over the company's affairs—including its cybersecurity program. The third challenge is managing expectations. When a private equity firm invests in a company, it typically does so with the expectation of selling that company for a profit within five to seven years.
This timeframe can create pressure on management to focus on short-term gains rather than long-term security objectives. Additionally, private equity firms often want to see quick results from their investments, which can lead them to push for unrealistic growth targets or force companies to take on more risk than they are comfortable with. Private equity firms have become major players in the cybersecurity industry in recent years, but their involvement comes with some unique challenges for CISOs and other security professionals. The most important thing CISOs can do is stay focused on their long-term security objectives and resist pressure to take shortcuts or take on unnecessary risk. By doing so, they can help ensure that their companies are able to weather any challenges that come their way—from external threats or from within the organization itself.