Why French Defense Giant Thales is Betting Big on Cybersecurity

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French defense and aerospace giant Thales has firmly pitched its tent in the cybersecurity world following the acquisition of Imperva from Thoma Bravo for $3.6bn.

Financially, in 2024, it is estimated that Thales’s total cybersecurity business will generate more than €2.4bn ($2.6bn) in revenue. Clearly, Thales is now on the path towards its goal of becoming a “world-class global cybersecurity leader.”

Speaking to Infosecurity, Sebastien Cano, SVP of Thales Cloud Protection and Licensing, highlighted that since 2014, Thales has made nine acquisitions in the digital security space. These include Excellium Services, S21sec and Tesserent.

“Imperva is an important strategic acquisition for us, enabling us to significantly expand our addressable market,” he said.

Speaking to Infosecurity, Sergey Gribov, partner at Flint Capital explained: “This approach makes sense in the cybersecurity market due to the wide range of different products available. This means that CISOs struggle with managing too many products. It is much easier for them to adopt a platform that already has well-integrated products, and that means such platforms have high potential.”

What Imperva Offers

Cano explained that Imperva has two main focus areas: provision of application security solutions and a data security platform.

“Both of these are complementary to our existing cybersecurity offerings and will enable us to build the best data security platform on the market,” he said.

Imperva also has a very attractive existing customer base, which Cano said includes approximately 35% of Fortune 100 companies.

With this acquisition, over the next 12-18 months, Thales will be able to create a world-class global cybersecurity portfolio structured around three product areas: identity, data security, and application security.

Digging into Application Security

Thales has highlighted how Imperva is a leader in application security, including through its Web Application Firewall.

Asked why this technology was attractive to Thales, Cano said: “There is a significant opportunity for Thales, as a large proportion of attacks take place through applications, such as portals and websites.”

“The Web Application Firewall (WAF) serves as the foundation of Imperva's reputation, being a dedicated firewall for web applications exposed on the internet. Imperva has completed its portfolio of Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) and bot protection products, offering global solutions that can mitigate against these attacks,” he added.

The acquisition also enables Thales to bring Imperva’s Data Security platform into the fold.

“Imperva’s expertise in data security must not be underestimated, with the company’s advanced offering helping to enhance the visibility of a company's data in order to prevent breaches and avoid compliance issues,” Cano said.

Gribov noted that the application security market was valued at $7.09bn in 2022 and is projected to be valued at $26.80bn by 2030.

Cybersecurity Attractive to Investors

Gribov said that the price tag for Imperva was likely sold for seven times its revenue value of $500m, which he said “is not an unusually high multiple for the cybersecurity industry.”

“As cyber threats continue to grow, the cybersecurity sector stays highly attractive to investors and companies,” he said.

It is expected that more companies will make similar acquisitions in the future, especially with CISO requirements to manage fewer platforms takes hold.

The cybersecurity market itself is set to reach a value of $657.02bn by 2030.

Gribov also noted that the application security market is expected to expand as companies increasingly rely on low-code/no-code and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) platforms.

“This, combined with the rise of Generative AI tools, could lead to a return to a time when coding was done without proper security measures in place, leaving sensitive data vulnerable to unauthorized access. Naturally, this will further fuel the growth of the cybersecurity market and that means it is and will remain a promising area for investment,” he concluded. 

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