Google's Parent Alphabet Launches Independent Security Company

Alphabet’s Chronicle venture will focus on security analytics services for enterprises.

Alphabet X Chronicle Spin Out

Google's parent company Alphabet has launched Chronicle, a new independent business unit focused on delivering high-end security analytics services to enterprises. 

Chronicle will use Google's considerable computing and storage infrastructure and the company's machine learning technologies to help organizations better investigate and analyze data from their security systems. 

VirusTotal, a free malware scanning service that Google acquired in 2012 has also become part of Chronicle and will continue to be available as it has for the last several years. 

Chronicle's analytics service is similar to that offered by several pure-play security vendors. It is designed to address the challenge that many organizations face in identifying the security issues that really matter amid the vast volumes of log and alert data generated daily by cyber-security and other IT systems. 

"At large companies, it’s not uncommon for IT systems to generate tens of thousands of security alerts a day," said Stephen Gillett, CEO of Chronicle in a blog announcing the new venture. While security teams can filter these alerts down by relevance to a few thousand it can be very challenging for them to actually review more than a few hundred alerts daily at most, he said. 

In some cases companies run into problems because of too little data, he said. Because of cost considerations, some organizations do not store important security related data thereby causing critical information gaps. The net result is that intruders are often able to stay undetected on networks they have broken into for long periods of time, Gillett said. 

Alphabet officially founded Chronicle in February 2016. The venture has been a part of Alphabet's X moonshot-project group up to now.  CEO Gillette himself was most recently a senior executive at security vendor Symantec and has had senior IT leadership stints at other companies including Starbucks where he was a CIO. Many of the other senior executives at the new venture have had similarly long stints in senior security roles in Google and other companies. 

Alphabet's new Chronicle unit is somewhat different from several other ventures that its X group has spun out in recent years. As home to Google, and now Alphabet's many moonshot projects, most of the ventures from X have been at the cutting edge of technology. 

Examples include Waymo, a former X initiative that is now Alphabet's independent self-driving car business and Verily, a life sciences company that is working on developing a smart-contact lens capable of monitoring blood sugar levels in tears. 

Many of the ongoing projects at X are similarly at the leading edge of technology and include robotics and free-space optical communication technology that use light beams to deliver connectivity. 

Alphabet's Chronicle announcement comes the same week that Amazon announced the acquisition of Sqrrl, a company that offers security analytics services similar to those planned by Chronicle. Neither Amazon nor Sqrrl have disclosed financial details of the transaction. The acquisition puts Amazon and Google—via Alphabet—in direct competition with each other in year another area of technology—IT security. 

Jaikumar Vijayan

Jaikumar Vijayan

Vijayan is an award-winning independent journalist and tech content creation specialist covering data security and privacy, business intelligence, big data and data analytics.