Twitter acquires Dasient, which has developed a scanner that detects malicious content on Websites and deploys the scanner as a Web service that fights malicious online ads.
Twitter has acquired security company
Dasient, making its second security deal in three months.
Twitter acquired the company
"effective immediately," and the team will join Twitter's revenue
engineering team, Neil Daswani, co-founder and CTO of Dasient
, wrote on the company blog Jan. 23. Terms
of the deal were not disclosed, but it was a big buy "in terms of sheer
size of the team," reported TechCrunch, citing unnamed sources.
Dasient, based in Sunnyvale, Calif.,
was founded in 2008 by Daswani, Ameet Ranadive and Shariq Rizvi. The company
launched its first Web anti-malware platform capable of scanning links and
Websites for harmful content in 2009. The following year it introduced a
service designed to protect advertising networks and publishers from malicious
The anti-malvertising service secured
ads and content being served on ad networks and Websites, wrote Daswani. The
company's Web Protection API allows customized scans of individual domains and
Twitter confirmed the deal with a
tweet: "Dasient is joining the flock! Welcome guys."
Twitter has been working hard to stop
malicious links on the site, scams trending as top topics and high-profile
attacks on user accounts. Dasient's scanning software follows links to the
actual site to determine if there's any malware on the site, a technology that
may be particularly attractive to Twitter, which is interested in "pre-scanning
malicious links at scale," said Alisdair Faulkner, chief products officer
Right now "Twitter is a gift from
heaven for crime gangs pushing infecting links," especially since it's
"nearly impossible" to verify and scan links in real time without
cybercrime intelligence, said Faulkner.
However, it is Dasient's capabilities
in the ad security space that may be the driving force behind the deal, as
Twitter is working on new advertising strategies to monetize the microblogging
platform. Twitter ad revenue is expected to top $140 million this year. There
have been recent reports that Twitter is planning self-service ads.
The security skills and knowledge
provided by Dasient's team of anti-spam experts would allow Twitter to filter
out malicious advertisers from the site. But the real value of the deal
"is in the talent," Faulkner said.
Cyber-criminals frequently use
malvertisements to serve up links to harmful sites on legitimate sites. They
don't need to compromise the Website to embed malicious code, and users may be
more likely to click on the ad because it is on a site they trust. Visitors to
the London Stock Exchange's Website
last year because of some malicious ads.
"Dasient will be able to apply its
technology and team to the world's largest real-time information network,"
A Twitter post that delivers the
"ticking time bomb" is bad for the site's business, especially since
having users interact and click on advertisers' links and sponsored stories is
crucial to their business model, according to Faulkner. "Social
networks need real-time protection at the point-of-click, and you will see
other social networks beef up their acquisitions in this area," Faulkner
"Neil Daswani, Shariq Rizvi and
Ameet Ranadive have created technology that provides network security and
malware prevention service for some of the largest ad networks in the world.
Their team has an excellent understanding of advertising platform-related
security issues and will be a valuable addition to the revenue engineering
team," Twitter told Wired
Dasient is Twitter's third acquisition
in recent months. The company acquired news aggregation company Summify on Jan.
19 and acquired security company Whisper Systems
in November. The "revenue
engineering" department at Twitter acquired AdGrok back in June.