Google made a significant addition to its security lineup Friday with its acquisition of online malware scanning service VirusTotal. Experts say the malware intelligence Google will have at its disposal would enhance not only existing products and services, but will backbone site safety rankings.
Terms of the deal were undisclosed.
VirusTotal’s service allows users to upload files or URLs that are scanned for malware. The five-year-old company uses more than 40 antimalware engines on the back end to perform scans. VirusTotal shares data with affected security companies as well in order to enhance scanning capabilities on both sides.
“Given Google’s visibility to everything, having a service like this lets them see and possibly interpret malware long before they might have recognized it themselves,” said IANS CTO Dave Shackleford. “With their efforts to notify Google users of nation state attacks and other security events, this adds some serious heft to their response and notification efforts.”
Google, a VirusTotal partner before today, already flags suspicious sites and files in its search queries. It also offers the Safe Browsing Diagnostic tool which scans websites and returns data as to the safety of the page, including current status, whether a site is hosting or distributin malware and whether it has done so in the past.
“Security is incredibly important to our users and we’ve invested many millions of dollars to help keep them safe online,” a Google spokesperson said in a statement. “VirusTotal also has a strong track record in Web security, and we’re delighted to be able to provide them with the infrastructure they need to ensure that their service continues to improve.”
A post on the VirusTotal site welcomed the acquisition and said the company will continue to operate independently and maintain existing partnerships with other security companies.
“This is great news for you, and bad news for malware generators, because the quality and power of our malware research tools will keep improving, most likely faster; and Google’s infrastructure will ensure that our tools are always ready, right when you need them,” the post said. “This is an exciting step forward. Google has a long track record working to keep people safe online and we look forward to fighting the good fight together with them.”
Google has made several high-profile security acquisitions since picking up sandboxing specialist GreenBorder and messaging security service provider Postini in 2007. Two years later, Google added reCAPTCHA as a CAPTCHA technology for its services. Last year, it scooped up Zynamics, a vulnerability research company that specializes in reverse engineering software.