What Alphabet’s foray into data security could mean for consumers


With data breaches becoming more and more commonplace, organizations are increasingly starting to take the offensive in protecting themselves and their clients from the susceptibility of getting hacked. Chief among these companies is Alphabet, the parent company of Google, which announced this week that it has launched a cybersecurity firm called Chronicle.

“Security threats are growing faster than security teams and budgets can keep up, and there’s already a huge talent shortage,” the Chronicle CEO Stephen Gillett said in a blog post on Medium Wednesday. “The proliferation of data from the dozens of security products that a typical large organization deploys is paradoxically making it harder, not easier, for teams to detect and investigate threats.”

Here’s how Alphabet’s new cybersecurity firm Chronicle could affect consumers

The company said that it wants to help solve the issue by optimizing the effectiveness of security teams tenfold, making it easier and more cost-effective to capture and analyze security cyber-threats. While it didn’t go into detail on how this could be accomplished, few are betting against Google.

The new company will have two parts, a cyber-intelligence and analytics platform “that we hope can help enterprises better manage and understand their own security-related data,” Gillett said, and the utilization of VirusTotal, a malware intelligence service Google bought six years ago.

There is both great irony and opportunity in this venture for Google. The Mountain View, California-based company has long been criticized for its continued obsession with tracking people’s data.

The Alphabet subsidiary’s pervasive location-based software that is baked into the Android operating system is constantly telling the Silicon Valley tech titan where users are and which Wi-Fi networks they’re using, and there have been missteps along the way.

As we previously reported, Google recently had to take down scores of apps from its Google Play app store after a security firm identified malicious adware in those apps. Researchers from security vendor Check Point said that even when users tried to disable certain functions, the applications would override the command, continually subjecting unsuspecting users to external content, including porn.

While Alphabet is targeting businesses with its newest venture, the offshoot company is also betting that consumers become more accustomed — and friendly to — artificial intelligence, which figures to be a main cog in Chronicle’s expansive tool shed.

The emergence of Chronicle also means that companies already stung by massive data leaks — think Equifax and Uber — may turn to Alphabet to protect their servers, which contain reams of consumer data. Chronicle said that it has rolled out beta tests for several Fortune 500 companies, but they’re being coy about who they are.

Meanwhile, the implication is that it is very likely that more of our personal info will be funneled through one central place — the Google machine — and potentially its vast empire of independent companies like Google Fiber, Google Ventures, Nest and more.


 2 steps to protect yourself from data breaches

Money expert Clark Howard says that with all the cyberleaks consumers hear about, “breach fatigue” is a real thing that can take hold if we become apathetic about cybersecurity. “After a while, we just get numb to it and we don’t pay any attention anymore,” he says. “But in truth, there are simple steps when can take” to protect ourselves from data breaches. ”Number 1 is to freeze your credit,” he says. “Number 2 is to set up two-factor authentication online.”

See our Credit Freeze Guide for step-by-step instructions

RELATED: How to set up two-factor authentification

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