What is Alphabet's Chronicle? Alphabet takes aim at enterprise security sector with Chronicle

Google's parent company Alphabet has launched a business that will specialise in leveraging machine learning in cyber security, called Chronicle.

What is Chronicle?

It was announced yesterday in a blog post that Google's umbrella business Alphabet would launch its own cyber security firm: Chronicle.

Chief executive Stephen Gillett says that the company will be split in two. On the one hand it will provide a cyber security and analytics platform that will target enterprise customers and help them "better manage and understand their own security-related data".

The other side of the business will be VirusTotal, which is a malware intelligence service Google picked up in 2012. This will continue to operate as it has been doing.

For some years now a slew of security vendors have touted machine learning as their key differentiator against rivals on the market. There is an aspect of snake oil to some of it – see our market analysis here.

But there are also companies like the darlings of the infosec market at the moment, Darktrace, that are using genuine machine learning for threat detection.

It's no secret that Alphabet and Google are at the frontier of machine learning and artificial intelligence.

Writing in Medium, Chronicle CEO Stephen Gillett says that while the company will be an independent business under the Google umbrella, it will "have the benefit of being able to consult the world-class experts in machine learning and cloud computing" at Alphabet.

Where did Chronicle come from?

Chronicle emerged from the labs of Alphabet's mysteriously named X – Google's incubation hub for ‘moonshot' projects, in 2016, plus VirusTotal which Google bought in 2012.

CEO Stephen Gillet began working at Google in 2015 and has a history of work in cyber security companies. Other people in leadership roles at Chronicle include Mike Wiacek and Shapor Naghibzadeh, who together have more than 20 years of security experience at Google. Bernardo Quintero of VirusTotal will continue to work with Chronicle.

What are the differentiators?

In short - access to Alphabet's powerful infrastructure and expertise. Chronicle boasts that it should be "able to help teams search and retrieve useful information and run analysis in minutes". It will also be able to make use of storage in a far greater capacity than rivals, and at a lower cost.

Chronicle will also have access to Alphabet's considerable expertise in search, the initial USP that launched Google into prominence and eventually power.

See also: What happens when cybercriminals start to use machine learning?

Ultimately Chronicle describes its goal as multiplying the speed of threat detection by 10 – making it easier and cheaper for security teams to analyse signals that have "previously been too difficult and expensive to find".

"We are building our intelligence and analytics platform to solve this problem," Chronicle writes.

Mergers & Acquisitions?

Now that Alphabet is explicitly going after the security space it will also open the doors for potential mergers and acquisitions. Google is no stranger to picking up technology that it sees promise in – for example, the British neural network specialist DeepMind, which famously formed the core for an artificial intelligence system beating a professional Go player in 2015.

The multi-billion dollar security sector shows absolutely no signs of abetting, with new and interesting startups springing up all the time. It will be interesting to see if Chronicle uses the gargantuan purchasing power of Alphabet to further bolster its expertise.

In the meantime, Chronicle is hiring for a range of positions, from product marketing to software engineers in tools and infrastructure. The roles are based at Alphabet's Mountain View, California campus.


Copyright © 2018 IDG Communications, Inc.

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