Google Acquires Online Virus, Malware and URL Scanner VirusTotal

VirusTotal, an online malware and virus scanner, was just acquired by Google. The company already used a number of Google services ahead of the acquisition, including App Engine and Google Storage. VirusTotal will continue to operate independently and maintain its existing partnerships with other antivirus companies and security experts. The two companies did not disclose the details of the announcement. It is worth noting, however, that VirusTotal describes itself as a “small resource-constrained company.” The company was founded in 2004 and uses a large number of antivirus engines from third-party providers to offer thorough checks of files that users can upload to its service.

In addition to checking files, VirusTotal also allows users to enter a URL and check web sites for potential malware threats. The service also offers browser plugins for Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer.

Google just confirmed this acquisition to us and a spokesperson provided us with the following statement:

“Security is incredibly important to our users and we’ve invested many millions of dollars to help keep them safe online. 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.”

It’s not clear how (or if) Google plans to use VirusTotal’s technology in its own products, but given that the service will continue to operate independently, this is likely not an acqui-hire. It’s possible, however, that Chrome could soon get an improved built-in virus scanner for downloads courtesy of VirusTotal, for example, or that parts of Google Search’s or Gmail’s malware detection could use some of VirusTotal’s assets.

Here is the full announcement from VirusTotal (via Mikka Hypponen and TNW):

An update from VirusTotal

Our goal is simple: to help keep you safe on the web. And we’ve worked hard to ensure that the services we offer continually improve. But as a small, resource-constrained company, that can sometimes be challenging. So we’re delighted that Google, a long-time partner, has acquired VirusTotal. This is great news for you, and bad news for malware generators, because:

  • The quality and power of our malware research tools will keep improving, most likely faster; and
  • Google’s infrastructure will ensure that our tools are always ready, right when you need them.

VirusTotal will continue to operate independently, maintaining our partnerships with other antivirus companies and security experts. This is an exciting step forward. Google has a long track record working to keep people safe online and we look forward to fighting the good fight together with them.

VirusTotal Team