Google Stomps into the Threat Intelligence Sector: AI and More

May 7, 2024

dinosaur30a_thumbThis essay is the work of a dinobaby. Unlike some folks, no smart software improved my native ineptness.

Before commenting on Google’s threat services news. I want to remind you of the link to the list of Google initiatives which did not survive. You can find the list at Killed by Google. I want to mention this resource because Google’s product innovation and management methods are interesting to say the least. Operating in Code Red or Yellow Alert or whatever the Google crisis buzzword is, generating sustainable revenue beyond online advertising has proven to be a bit of a challenge. Google is more comfortable using such methods as [a] buying and trying to scale it, [b] imitating another firm’s innovation, and [c] dumping big money into secret projects in the hopes that what comes out will not result in the firm’s getting its “glass” kicked to the curb.


Google makes a big entrance at the RSA Conference. Thanks, MSFT Copilot. Have you considerate purchasing Google’s threat intelligence service?

With that as background, Google has introduced an “unmatched” cyber security service. The information was described at the RSA security conference and in a quite Googley blog post “Introducing Google Threat Intelligence: Actionable threat intelligence at Google Scale.” Please, note the operative word “scale.” If the service does not make money, Google will “not put wood behind” the effort. People won’t work on the project, and it will be left to dangle in the wind or just shot like Cricket, a now famous example of animal husbandry. (Google’s Cricket was the Google Appliance. Remember that? Take over the enterprise search market. Nope. Bang, hasta la vista.)

Google’s new service aims squarely at the comparatively well-established and now maturing cyber security market. I have to check to see who owns what. Venture firms and others with money have been buying promising cyber security firms. Google owned a piece of Recorded Future. Now Recorded Future is owned by a third party outfit called Insight. Darktrace has been or will be purchased by Thoma Bravo. Consolidation is underway. Thus, it makes sense to Google to enter the threat intelligence market, using its Mandiant unit as a springboard, one of those home diving boards, not the cliff in Acapulco diving platform.

The write up says:

we are announcing Google Threat Intelligence, a new offering that combines the unmatched depth of our Mandiant frontline expertise, the global reach of the VirusTotal community, and the breadth of visibility only Google can deliver, based on billions of signals across devices and emails. Google Threat Intelligence includes Gemini in Threat Intelligence, our AI-powered agent that provides conversational search across our vast repository of threat intelligence, enabling customers to gain insights and protect themselves from threats faster than ever before.

Google to its credit did not trot out the “quantum supremacy” lingo, but the marketers did assert that the service offers “unmatched visibility in threats.” I like the “unmatched.” Not supreme, just unmatched. The graphic below illustrates the elements of the unmatchedness:


Credit to the Google 2024

But where is artificial intelligence in the diagram? Don’t worry. The blog explains that Gemini (Google’s AI “system”) delivers

AI-driven operationalization

But the foundation of the new service is Gemini, which does not appear in the diagram. That does not matter, the Code Red crowd explains:

Gemini 1.5 Pro offers the world’s longest context window, with support for up to 1 million tokens. It can dramatically simplify the technical and labor-intensive process of reverse engineering malware — one of the most advanced malware-analysis techniques available to cybersecurity professionals. In fact, it was able to process the entire decompiled code of the malware file for WannaCry in a single pass, taking 34 seconds to deliver its analysis and identify the kill switch. We also offer a Gemini-driven entity extraction tool to automate data fusion and enrichment. It can automatically crawl the web for relevant open source intelligence (OSINT), and classify online industry threat reporting. It then converts this information to knowledge collections, with corresponding hunting and response packs pulled from motivations, targets, tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs), actors, toolkits, and Indicators of Compromise (IoCs). Google Threat Intelligence can distill more than a decade of threat reports to produce comprehensive, custom summaries in seconds.

I like the “indicators of compromise.”

Several observations:

  1. Will this service be another Google Appliance-type play for the enterprise market? It is too soon to tell, but with the pressure mounting from regulators, staff management issues, competitors, and savvy marketers in Redmond “indicators” of success will be known in the next six to 12 months
  2. Is this a business or just another item on a punch list? The answer to the question may be provided by what the established players in the threat intelligence market do and what actions Amazon and Microsoft take. Is a new round of big money acquisitions going to begin?
  3. Will enterprise customers “just buy Google”? Chief security officers have demonstrated that buying multiple security systems is a “safe” approach to a job which is difficult: Protecting their employers from deeply flawed software and years of ignoring online security.

Net net: In a maturing market, three factors may signal how the big, new Google service will develop. These are [a] price, [b] perceived efficacy, and [c] avoidance of a major issue like the SolarWinds’ matter. I am rooting for Googzilla, but I still wonder why Google shifted from Recorded Future to acquisitions and me-too methods. Oh, well. I am a dinobaby and cannot be expected to understand.

Stephen E Arnold, May 7, 2024


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