Chronicle: Alphabet’s Cyber Security Company

According to USA Today, Chronicle, a Cyber Security offering, was incubated and just spun out of Alphabet’s experimental lab X, known as the “Moonshot Factory” for its pursuit of big challenges such as driverless cars.

The global cyber security market is worth nearly $100 billion according to Gartner.  That number continues to climb since Cyber Security continues its climb up the funding ladder of many companies.  There is an ever-growing list of companies offering Cyber Security services ranging from simple PC monitoring to comprehensive network log analysis and audit.  Chronicle is the first from a company deep rooted in Artificial Intelligence of the magnitude of Alphabet.

My initial reaction to the announcement was curiosity and to wonder if Chronicle is a Machine Learning(ML) solution that integrates with their open-sourced Tensor Flow platform.  The USA Today article was vague.   Being one of Alphabet’s primary strengths, ML makes sense as the next logical iteration in Cyber Security — an algorithmic learning component tailored to a company’s or sector’s unique attack/threat vectors.  For example, it would make sense that Chronicle would offer a ML service that identifies and defends against attacks on the financial sector; Whomever is attacking Vanguard is likely attacking Fidelity and Schwab.  In other words, Chronicle may be able to quickly specialize in any business sector.

Digging further, it was clear the USA Today article missed how Alphabet plans to incorporate ML into their Chronicle offering:  According to Reuters, “Chronicle is betting on the premise that machine learning software, a type of artificial intelligence, can sift and analyze massive stores of data to detect cyber threats more quickly and precisely than is possible with traditional methods”.

Initial speculation has the service focused on log analysis across large networks.  Since there’s already many companies offering logs analysis, there should be more than one facet to their service; unless the speed at which they identify attacks is superior to competitors.

I wonder if Chronicle is supposed to be a enterprise sized offering or is the roadmap heading toward a could offering even at the PC level?  Time will tell.

Interestingly, Alphabet enters the Cyber Security market laterally instead of from the ground up meaning their solution is unproven.  I don’t believe it hurts their business case since they are leveraging well-established resources –  which in this, is superior ML.  Google is a ML Goliath; if they have a bona fide solution, they could easily leverage their brand into businesses worldwide with a Cyber Security solution that should cost markedly less than existing offerings because the backend is already in place and profitable.  Look out Check Point, Symantec and Palo Alto, you need to take notice – Alphabet is eyeing your lunch!

If Chronicle has early success, Microsoft and Amazon will take notice quickly and rush to leverage their AI platforms into Cyber Security offerings.  I you’d like to peruse a clever article on the subject, read Steve Morgan’s article about who will be the players in Cyber Security in 2018.  It’s short, succinct and clever.

The premise of using ML quickly and at scale in Cyber Security makes perfect sense; especially since Tensor Flow is currently the de-facto ML platform – likely because it has been open-sourced for several years.  A clear advantage.  I think Chronicle will initially be successful, but themselves will get their lunch eaten by Amazon.  I’m not sure if Amazon’s ML offering would be on par with Alphabets at first, but I am very certain that Amazon’s AWS services can provision a Cyber Security service anywhere in the world within minutes.  They will certainly change the way Cyber Security services are delivered.   That’s the real story, which has been missed.





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