SAN DIEGO (

TheStreet

) -- Shares of

Websense

(WBSN)

surged Wednesday after the

Wall Street Journal

reported that the security specialist may be on the block.

Citing people familiar with the matter, the

Journal

said that Websense is exploring a sale with the help of investment bank

Qatalyst Partners

, which also worked on

HP's

(HPQ) - Get Report

acquisition of

Palm

and

EMC's

(EMC)

purchase of

Data Domain

.

Websense could command a price tag of around $1 billion, according to the sources, who explained that the firm may decide against a sale if offers do not meet its expectations.

Websense shares climbed $2.42, or 11.85%, to close at $22.85 on Wednesday, reversing the broader retreat in tech stocks that saw the

Nasdaq lose 1.89%

over the session.

Rumors of Websense as an attractive acquisition target are

not new,

and a deal would continue the recent spate of security M&A that saw

Intel

(INTC) - Get Report

spend $7.7 billion on

McAfee

and HP

grab ArcSight for $1.7 billion

.

HP, which rolled out its

long-term strategy

earlier this week, has been touted as a possible WebSense suitor. The tech bellwether is expected to make more acquisitions in both software and security, particularly after HP CEO Leo Apotheker highlighted the security challenges of cloud computing during an event in San Francisco earlier this week.

Websense, which has a market cap of $928 million, sells software for securing Web, email, mobile and social networking data. The

Symantec

(SYMC) - Get Report

rival lists

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

as a partner.

Neither Websense nor Qatalyst has yet responded to

TheStreet's

request for comment on this story.

--Written by James Rogers in New York.

>To follow the writer on Twitter, go to

http://twitter.com/jamesjrogers

.

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.