Google acquires file scanner VirusTotal

Robert Westervelt, News Director

VirusTotal, a firm that provides free file checking for viruses, has been acquired by Google, according to a statement on the VirusTotal website.

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We’re delighted to be able to provide them with the infrastructure they need to ensure that their service continues to improve.

Google spokesperson

The free scanning tool uses more than three dozen antivirus engines to detect viruses, worms, trojans, and other malware hidden in files. In a blog post, VirusTotal said it would continue to operate independently, maintaining partnerships with various antivirus companies.

"This is an exciting step forward," the firms said. "Google has a long track record working to keep people safe online and we look forward to fighting the good fight together with them."

The firm said its size and resources were constrained making continued growth challenging. The company said Google's resources, including its infrastructure, will speed improvements and "ensure that our tools are always ready, right when you need them."

A Google spokesperson said the company didn't have any integration plans to announce. 

"Security is incredibly important to our users and we’ve invested many millions of dollars to help keep them safe online," the spokesperson said. "VirusTotal also has a strong track record in Web security, and we’re delighted to be able to provide them with the infrastructure they need to ensure that their service continues to improve.” 

The company has made strategic security acquisitions to support its Gmail, Google Docs and other services. It acquired Postini in 2007 for $625 million. The San Carlos, Calif.-based company sold cloud-based security software for email and messaging encryption and security. In 2011, the company acquired Zynamics, a security analytics firm based in Germany.

VirusTotal scans individual files on-demand. If one of the antivirus engines detects a problem, the name of the virus will be displayed. Experts say the service is not a replacement for antivirus or other scanning tools. If a scanner thinks it has definitely found something, it will tell you the name of the virus it has detected.

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