Google to acquire VirusTotal for email security

VirusTotal provides anti-virus engines from third-party providers to check electronic files that users upload to its service. VirusTotal users can also enter a URL and check websites for malware threats. And, it has browser plugins for Google Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer.

The companies will leverage Google’s infrastructure and data centers to make the tools available on a wider scale, and more resources will go into developing and evolving the software. There are also some obvious synergies in the acquisition, including the ability to provide a built-in virus scanner for Google+ apps and security for Gmail, and automatic virus checks for URLs in returned search results. Identifying malicious links is something Google already somewhat does via its “may not be safe” labeling, but VirusTotal integration could make that a more granular service.

“Security is incredibly important to our users and we’ve invested many millions of dollars to help keep them safe online,” said Google in an emailed statement. “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.”

VirusTotal, which describes itself as a “small, resource-constrained company,” said that the acquisition is “bad news for malware generators.”

VirusTotal will be a key acquisition, but there are no plans to Google it, so to speak: it will continue to operate independently, maintaining partnerships with other antivirus companies and security experts.

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