Alphabet, parent company of Google, Nest, and other ventures, today announced a new independent business focused on cybersecurity. Chronicle is the latest project to graduate from X, the internal research lab where Alphabet develops new technologies.
Chronicle was built to help security and IT professionals detect and prevent cyberattacks before they cause damage. The businesses will be split in two parts: an intelligence and analytics platform to handle security-related data, and VirusTotal, which Google acquired in 2012.
Part of the intent behind Chronicle is to help businesses deal with an increase of data amid the security talent shortage, writes Chronicle cofounder and CEO Stephen Gillett in a blog post.
"At large companies, it's not uncommon for IT systems to generate tens of thousands of security alerts a day," he explains. "Security teams can usually filter these down to about a few thousand they think are worth investigating — but in a day's work, they're lucky if they can review a few hundred of them."
The result is thousands of potential clues about hacking are either overlooked or thrown away. Further, many businesses don't have the budget to store all relevant data amid increasing storage costs, impeding security investigations.
Chronicle is building its analytics platform, which is currently undergoing testing at Fortune 500 companies, to detect and analyze security signals that are otherwise too hard and expensive to find. The platform will leverage machine learning to dig through enterprise data, detect threats, and look for patterns to find areas of likely vulnerability.
VirusTotal, the second component, is a malware intelligence service that analyzes suspicious files and URLs to detect viruses, Trojans, worms, and other forms of malware. Alphabet integrated VirusTotal into X in 2015 and reports it will continue to operate as it has been.
Chronicle was officially founded as an X project in February 2016 and spent two years in development. Alphabet has recruited enterprise security experts from across the industry to work on Chronicle. In addition to Gillett, who was formerly COO at Symantec, the team includes Norton antivirus co-founder Carey Nachenberg and Google engineering vet Will Robinson.
The launch of Chronicle outside the scope of typical projects at X, also known as "the moonshot factory." Previously explored ideas include smart contact lenses, Internet-beaming balloons, and self-driving cars. Very few have advanced to the graduation phase of Alphabet's projects.