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With GreenBorder, Google gets deeper into Net security

Buying the virtual browser company just one of many steps Google is taking toward providing online security.

Google's purchase of GreenBorder Technologies--a browser virtualization software company that creates a sandboxed environment for your existing Firefox or Internet Explorer browse--follows on the heels of Google announcing a blog from its nascent antimalware team. With rumors of a possible forthcoming antivirus acquisition, the Mountain View search giant has jumped into the Internet security business feet first.

Nerves must be raw at traditional security vendors Symantec and McAfee. Last year Microsoft announced its own security suite, Microsoft Windows Live Onecare, and proceeded to capture a lion's share of sales in the Internet security suite space. Now Google is arming itself with online security products, possibly providing these tools for free. Unlike Microsoft, Google's drive is more focused. Where Microsoft is providing tools to defragment your hard drive and backup files in addition to their firewall and antivirus choices, Google appears to be protecting their main asset: online businesses.

In a paper, "The Ghost in the Browser" (in PDF), Google's antimalware researchers looked at several billion Web sites. They studied a subgroup of 12 million web sites, within which they found 1 million engaging in drive-by downloads of malicious code. Overall that's only 0.1 percent (less than 1 percent) of all the Web sites, but any one bad experience on the Internet is enough to threaten Google's long-term usefulness. By purchasing software technology that protects the end-user from malicious code, Google is ensuring that most people enjoy an event-free experience while surfing the Internet.