Alphabet’s Chronicle, the cybersecurity division that was spun out of X (formerly Google X), has just announced its first commercial product — a security data platform called Backstory.
Using Google’s vast infrastructure and analytics capabilities, Backstory gives security analysts the ability to parse potential threats from the avalanche of alerts, helping them more quickly pinpoint the real vulnerabilities. In a crowded U.S. market for cybersecurity vendors, there are few existing ways for security teams to knit all of the data from their different products in a unified system.
“Security professionals are in short supply and prefer to spend their time actually doing security work instead of managing the security data infrastructure,” said Jon Oltski, a senior principal analyst with technology research firm Enterprise Research Group. “This is creating a large opportunity for cloud vendors, who already own global cloud infrastructure that can handle the volumes of security information being generated today.”
Chronicle didn’t provide details on pricing, but CEO Stephen Gillett told CNBC that it will not be based on volume, a method of pricing that’s known to generate big, unexpected bills for customers. Chronicle said licenses will be based on the size of the company, “rather than the size of the customer’s data.”
Gillett said Chronicle is not looking to displace existing cybersecurity companies. He said he called CEOs of some of the top vendors, assuring them that Chronicle was looking to partner rather than compete.
But some level of competition is inevitable. Companies that provide security information and event management (SIEMs) are the likeliest rivals for part of Chronicle’s business. Those vendors include IBM, Rapid7 and Splunk.
Google has been building a security profile for a while. In 2012, it acquired VirusTotal, a free service that’s widely used in U.S. companies, allowing them to log and search for threats. That product was later absorbed by Chronicle, and Gillett said it will continue to be free, providing a convenient entryway for the Backstory service at companies of all sizes and in all industries in the U.S. and Europe.
Chronicle also has the advantage of a user interface that, on its surface, looks and feels like the simple, familiar Google search engine.
Some cybersecurity companies have already started integrating it into their offerings. Carbon Black was part of Backstory’s beta test and has joined the product’s processing, storage and analytics offerings with its endpoint security data.
“The existing model for security analytics is too fragmented and too slow,” said Michael Viscuso, a co-founder of Carbon Black and its chief strategy officer. With current tools, the amount of work required by security teams can be “very expensive and very time consuming,” he said.