Google Quietly Acquires Security Firm

Although it normally touts its numerous acquisitions on the company blog, Google has yet to officially announce that it has purchased security firm Green Border, which offers software to protect Web users that takes a fairly unique approach.

Green Border, which happens to be located in Google's hometown of Mountain View, Calif., was founded in 2001, but has failed to make major headway in the marketplace. Its software has been offered as a free download, with a Pro version cosing $49.95 USD.

GreenBorder uses what it describes as "just-in-time virtualization" to build an extensible operating environment around the browser, separating its session from that of the operating system. The purpose of this virtual wrapper is to disable any active content downloaded and run through the browser from having any kind of direct and unwarranted access to the operating system.

With GreenBorder active, the Web browser is launched within a virtual session, which is marked on the screen with, literally, a green border around the browser window. Any new windows spawned through the browser also exist within this virtual session.

As a result, remote procedure calls intended to make changes to system settings are separated by a single layer of indirection, through which malware should not be able to pass. Conceptually, Microsoft offers a similar capability in Windows Vista with IE's "Protected Mode."

Although Google has not said what it plans to do with Green Border technology, the search giant has been recently bulking up its offerings for the enterprise with Google Apps. Such security features could also find their way into the consumer-oriented Google Toolbar.

In what is surely not a coincidence, Google last week launched a new blog devoted to covering online security issues. An initial post on the blog covered the topic of malware, which is exactly what Green Border's technology is focused on.

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