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Google dives into security market

Bill Brenner

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Google is looking at its own applications and the fact that more people work through the Web ... It's trying to quell people's concerns over the use of its services.
Eric Maiwald,
senior analystBurton Group
Security vendors have watched with growing concern as Microsoft Corp. plunges deeper into the IT security market. The vendors also have Google Inc. to worry about.

The search engine giant announced this week it has acquired Mountain View, Calif.-based security firm GreenBorder Technologies Inc., which specializes in sandbox technology to defend email and Web users from malware. Google has not yet released terms of the deal, which closed in the last couple of weeks. It also hasn't announced how it will absorb GreenBorder into its services, though spokesman Aaron Zamost said in published reports that the technology could be used across a variety of Google products.

GreenBorder makes software that establishes temporary, virtual sessions whenever the user accesses the Internet, then purges the resulting data once the user is done surfing. The technology is designed to help IT shops shield corporate networks from malware that may come by way of email, instant messages or Web sites. According to the Google Operating System blog, an unofficial blog dedicated to news about the search giant, GreenBorder's application was initially a sandbox for Internet Explorer, but now supports Firefox as well.

GreenBorder said on its Web site that it will continue to support its existing customers through the end of their current subscriptions.

According to Eric Maiwald, senior analyst at Midvale, Utah-based Burton Group, the move makes sense for Google, given the increasing reliance people have on the Internet for their work purposes.

"Google is looking at its own applications and the fact that more people work through the Web," he said. "It's trying to quell people's concerns over the use of its services."

Maiwald isn't so sure that this will create the same level of fear in the market that has been caused by Microsoft's security endeavors. After all, he said, Google is merely the latest in a long list of giants to bake more security into its larger infrastructure. IBM moved in that direction with the acquisition of Internet Security Systems Inc. (ISS) last year, and Cisco Systems has been more aggressive about its security.

"Will this affect the security guys? Sure, anything like this will," he said. "But there are so many niche technologies out there that there is something for everyone to latch onto. Security vendors who find the right niche will continue to thrive."

Jonathan Eunice, a principal at Nashua, N.H.-based consultancy Illuminata Inc., agreed.

"I don't see Google going specifically into the security and protection business," he said. "Instead, it wants to be central to people's Internet usage."

He said that if Google follows the course it has previously set with Sketchup, Picassa, Google Earth, and other offerings, it will be giving away a free, high-visibility protection tool.


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