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Alphabet unveils Chronicle cybersecurity business unit

There is a new moonshot in cybersecurity, and Google’s parent company is calling it Chronicle. Alphabet’s cybersecurity business unit launched last week and plans on selling cybersecurity services to Fortune 500 companies.

Chronicle — cybersecurity unit — aims to leverage machine learning to advance threat detection, the company touted. It will help companies use their information to improve security by allowing them to run analysis faster and giving them the ability to store large amounts of data to help them recognize patterns.

“We want to 10x the speed and impact of security teams’ work by making it much easier, faster and more cost-effective for them to capture and analyze security signals that have previously been too difficult and expensive to find. We are building our intelligence and analytics platform to solve this problem,” Stephen Gillett, CEO and co-founder of Chronicle, said in a blog post.

Given the steady rise in global security spending, Gartner analyst Avivah Litan thinks it’s wise that Alphabet spin out a cybersecurity company.

Google has world-class AI and machine learning that the Chronicle cybersecurity company can use, and also has some of the world’s largest data sets that are invaluable when training machine learning models to find threats and attacks, Litan said.

“With the right people on the problem, Chronicle can translate these Google leveraged assets into world-class security products that are highly effective in combating today’s advancing attacks,” she said.

But Bryce Austin, CEO at Minneapolis-based IT consulting company TCE Strategy, thinks Google is entering a space already saturated with companies offering similar services.

“However, the cybersecurity machine learning space has yet to find a clear front runner,” Austin said in an email interview.

Google is trying to solve a very different problem than they do with their search engine, Austin said. When people search with Google, most “hits” come from websites that want to be found. Google’s challenge is to make the more relevant results show up on top, and to keep the fake or malicious ones out of the search results, he said.

“This new security offering is exactly the opposite. The ‘hits’ Google will be looking for in cybersecurity are ones that are trying hard to not be found,” Austin said.

The trick will be to provide alerts reporting suspicious network behavior while at the same time not overwhelming human operators with false positives, he added.

But only time will tell how successful Chronicle will be as a cybersecurity company, Litan said.

It comes down to a couple of key points that could trip the Chronicle up, she said: One, the company’s staff: Is Chronicle cybersecurity able to attract the best talents in security analytics and threat detection? It’s not a given, since competition for such talent is fierce and these sought-after individuals need dynamic environments and financial incentives to thrive, she said.

Two, the go-to-market strategy: Is Chronicle able to sell their still relatively undefined services and products in a very crowded market full of innovative entrepreneurial competitors?

“I’ve seen lots of companies with great technology assets miss the mark and not achieve the success they potentially could,” Litan said.

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