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Alphabet pushes for corporate computing, unveils unit to stop cyber attacks

Alphabet's big cash pile and existing customer relationships also make Chronicle a threat to security tools vendors

Reuters  |  San Francisco 

artificial intelligence
The shift is driven by Artificial Intelligence's growing importance in areas like self-driving cars and voice assistants such as Siri | Photo: istock

launched a new business unit on Wednesday that will sell cyber security software to Fortune 500 companies, the latest move by the parent of to become a big player in corporate computing. The new unit, dubbed Chronicle, is betting on the premise that machine learning software, a type of artificial intelligence, can sift and analyse massive stores of data to detect cyber threats more quickly and precisely than is possible with traditional methods. Stephen Gillett, chief executive of and a former top official at the cyber firm Symantec Corp, said access to Google’s expertise in automated data analysis would give the company an edge. Alphabet’s big cash pile and existing customer relationships also make a threat to security tools vendors such as Symantec, Palo Alto Networks Inc and Cylance Inc. The global cyber security market is worth nearly $100 billion, according to market researcher Gartner. But analysts note that previous efforts by internet search and networking to get into the cyber security business have faltered. "Being the heavy hitter and even having small teams spun out of that doesn’t translate to instant success," said Avivah Litan, a vice president at Gartner. Gillett, on a conference call, declined to specify how Chronicle's technology works and would not give the exact number of testing the service. also houses VirusTotal, a virus-scanning tool acquired in 2012 that charges for premium features. The cyber security initiative reflects Alphabet's desire to expand beyond its core online advertising business at and become a major player in enterprise computing technology. is a distant rival to Amazon.com Inc in cloud computing infrastructure and lags far behind Microsoft Corp in workplace productivity software. Gillett, also a former Starbucks Corp chief information officer, said aims to identify problems in seconds or minutes instead of hours or days.

The process would be aided by lowering customers' data storage costs. Keeping years of logs can make the threat-detection process more effective, he said. Gillett co-founded in February 2016 with former cyber security leaders Shapor Naghibzadeh and Mike Wiacek. Gillett met them after becoming executive-in-residence at GV, Alphabet's venture capital investment arm, in 2015. Chronicle, based at Alphabet's Mountain View, California, headquarters, becomes the third business spun out of the company’s “X” research lab and into the holding company — a process it calls “graduating”.

First Published: Fri, January 26 2018. 00:41 IST
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