Google Adds More Security Features Via Chronicle Division

Order out of chaos? The saga of Chronicle continues with new security features for the Google Cloud Platform.

3 Min Read

RSA CONFERENCE 2020 - San Francisco - Chronicle — the once spun-off, now reabsorbed cybersecurity division of Google Cloud — launched a handful of new features at the RSA Conference, which kicked off in San Francisco this week.

The company plans to demonstrate how its cloud-based threat intelligence service, Backstory, can detect threats and analyze them as part of a timeline, show the tool's integrated fraud prevention services, and reveal new integrations with partners' products, such as Palo Alto Networks' Cortex XSOAR. As part of its rollout at RSA this year, Google Cloud will show how the platform can be used to investigate alerts and detect threats using the YARA-L, a language for describing behaviors and characteristics of cybersecurity threats focused on log files.

"Chronicle launched its security analytics platform in 2019 to help change the way any business could quickly, efficiently, and affordably investigate alerts and threats in their organization,"  said Sunil Potti, vice president of Google Cloud Security, in a blog post announcing the new features. "This advanced threat detection provides massively scalable, real-time and retroactive rule execution."

The latest additions to the software comes as the company is under scrutiny for what many critics see as a failed spinoff. 

In January 2018, Alphabet — Google's parent company — created Chronicle, with startup CEO Stephen Gillett calling the cybersecurity spinoff an "independent business" in a blog post announcing the launch of the firm. The company included VirusTotal, a virus detection service that submits a file to a variety of malware scanners, and a new cybersecurity analytics platform. At last year's RSA, 14 months after the company came out of stealth, it launched Backstory, a cloud-based service to bring varied threat intelligence together to give security teams context regarding threats facing their business.

"The missing piece is a powerful investigation, analytics, and hunting system to tie together a customer's internal network activity, external threat intelligence, and curated internal threat signals," the company stated at the time. "Such a system would give analysts the context they need to protect their organizations... [that is,] the backstory."

Last summer, however, Google reabsorbed Chronicle back into its Google Cloud business, potentially reducing the independent threat platform into a service offering on the Google Cloud Platform (GCP). "Chronicle's products and engineering team complement what Google Cloud offers," the company said at the time.

Yet the company continues to add partners and new features. 

Palo Alto Networks, for example, posed two scenarios that would benefit from Chronicle's Backstory. First, companies can automate the combining of threat intelligence information and network data to identify threats and then respond through a security orchestration, analysis, and response (SOAR) platform. Second, the Backstory platform can be used to help interactive, real-time investigations.

Such platforms help reduce the amount of time analysts are swapping between different dashboards on different products, the company said in a statement.

The YARA-L is a modified version of YARA, a rule-based approach to describing malware and threats originally developed by a founder of VirusTotal, an antimalware engine survey platform that was later bought by Google. 

"The two capabilities work together so that customers can create powerful detection rules against intelligent, auto-enriched and structured telemetry," Chronicle stated in a second blog post. "We make this available in our UI as well as through a new API that other security vendors can use to enhance their own products."

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About the Author(s)

Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer

Veteran technology journalist of more than 20 years. Former research engineer. Written for more than two dozen publications, including CNET, Dark Reading, MIT's Technology Review, Popular Science, and Wired News. Five awards for journalism, including Best Deadline Journalism (Online) in 2003 for coverage of the Blaster worm. Crunches numbers on various trends using Python and R. Recent reports include analyses of the shortage in cybersecurity workers and annual vulnerability trends.

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